Wednesday

18th Oct 2017

Centre-right asks for commissioners with Communist-free past

EU commissioner hopefuls will not win the approval of centre-right MEPs if they are considered to have collaborated with repressive Communist regimes or with governments 'tainted by corruption,' the largest group in the European Parliament has indicated.

"The candidate commissioners must under no circumstances have been associated with oppressive regimes and must not have participated in non-democratic governments or political movements, or governments or movements that have been tainted by corruption," a checklist drafted by the European People's Party (EPP) reads.

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  • The EPP will only give a green light to commissioners who have not collaborated with oppressive regimes (Photo: Kevin Connors)

The EPP holds the largest number of seats in the EU legislature, 288 out of 736.

It is important to know what the positions of commissioner candidates were in the past, when dissidents were put in prison or killed, the conservative deputies believe. "We don't want to reward perpetrators of the Communist regimes," German MEP Manfred Weber said on Wednesday (18 November) at a press briefing.

"This will also be a question for Massimo D'Alema, if he is nominated," Mr Weber said in reply to a question regarding the Italian ex-prime minister, who is said to be a contender for the post of EU high representative for foreign affairs.

The top diplomat will require the approval of the EU legislature - with hearings expected to take place mid-January - as the person will also be vice-president of the European Commission.

But Cypriot MEP Ioannis Kassoulides said the criterion goes beyond the Italian candidate and should not be directed against a person's political preferences in his youth, as "other persons with a Maoist past" could get into trouble, in reference to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

"We won't start a witch hunt," Mr Kassoulides said. His group will not ask for certificates of non-collaboration with the Communist regimes in countries where special bodies have been set up to investigate the archives of the secret police, issuing such papers for public officials. "It would have to be a case which cries out," he said.

The hearings of the commissioners is expected to start on 11 January and last for two weeks. If there are no major hiccups, the plenary will then vote on the entire college at the end of January.

However, the centre-right checklist is indicative of how the parliament want to flex its muscles when it comes to the shape of the commission.

MEPs cannot outright veto a candidate but in 2004 they gained a political foothold when they managed to pressure Mr Barroso to have the Italian commissioner withdrawn.

Political groups outline criteria for commissioner hearings

Leaders of the four largest political groups in the European Parliament on Tuesday called for transparency and complete information about the commissioner candidates in view of the January hearings, with the Bulgarian nominee emerging as the most controversial.

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The European parliament claims the media and public do not have a right to supervise or monitor the public role of MEPs, says Natasa Pirc Musar, a lawyer representing journalists, in a transparency battle against the assembly.

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