22nd Feb 2020

MEPs to call six ambassadors for hearings

  • The public interviews will test nominees on their knowledge of new dossiers (Photo: EUobserver)

MEPs in the foreign affairs committee are to ask the EU's new ambassadors to China, Georgia, Japan, Lebanon and Pakistan and the EU Special Representative (EUSR) to Sudan to come in for hearings to check if they are up to scratch.

The committee drew up the list at a meeting in Strasbourg on Monday (20 September) and aims to carry out the interviews in public sessions next month. More names can be added, especially if information comes to light casting doubt on the eligibility of other nominees.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or join as a group

German centre-right deputy Elmar Brok said the group of six was chosen due to the importance of the countries rather than any worries about individual candidates.

"We will check for knowledge of the dossier. A civil servant does not need to have a political vision," he told EUobserver.

MEPs do not have the legal power to block nominations. But if one of the interviewees performs badly it will create pressure for EU foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton to reconsider the posting.

"We did not want to have a system like in the United States, where Congress can block appointments and it takes a year and a half to get anything done," Mr Brok said.

Ms Ashton on 15 September published a list of 29 nominees for heads of delegation and deputy heads of delegation in the European External Action Service (EEAS). She appointed the new EUSR to Sudan on 11 August.

The new ambassador to China, German diplomat Markus Ederer, who is currently the head of policy planning in the German foreign ministry, is seen as a very strong choice. The new envoy to Georgia, former Bulgarian prime minister Philip Dimitrov, is also seen as a heavy-hitter because of his previous high office.

The envoy to Japan, Austrian diplomat Hans Dietmar Schweisgut, should have a good grasp of EU policy as he is currently Austria's ambassador to the EU.

The other three people to face the MEPs' grilling will be: Dutch EU official Angelina Eichhorst (the new ambassador to Lebanon), who is today the head of the Political, Economic and Trade section in the European Commission delegation to Syria; Swedish EU official Lars-Gunnar Wigemark (Pakistan), the current head of the commission's Security Policy unit; and British diplomat Rosalind Marsden (Sudan EUSR), the previous UK ambassador to Sudan.

Ms Ashton will in the coming weeks also name new people to head her missions to Belarus, Brazil and Iraq.

MEPs won the right to cross-examine her nominees in return for giving the green light to the EEAS' new budget and staff regulations in a political deal in July.

The deal does not cover her choices for top EEAS administrative jobs, such as secretary general and two deputy secretary generals. But Mr Brok said parliament might call in the new top bureaucrats as well.

"It's not in the agreement. But we will try to see if we can make some of them come in," he said.


EU commissioner lobbied by energy firm he owns shares in

EU budget commissioner Johannes Hahn owns 2,200 shares in Austria's largest electricity provider. Those shares have tripled in value since he first declared them in 2014. In January, the firm met his head of cabinet to discuss climate policy.

EU transparency on lobbyist meetings still piecemeal

Small steps are being made to reveal who is lobbying who within the EU. But the approach is basically haphazard and piecemeal - meaning the public remains largely in the dark and unable to truly scrutinise the influencers.

'Top-down' future of Europe conference 'will fail' warning

The new president of the Committee of the Regions has warned the EU Commission that a top-down, centralised, Brussels-driven conference will fail to rebuild trust in Europe. Instead, he proposes a stronger say for local and regional authorities.

'Law of silence' reigns over EESC leaders, says staff union

The secretary-general of the European Economic and Social Committee, an EU institution, has been accused by a trade union representing staff for perpetuating a "law of silence" amid a flurry of abuse allegations against its likely future president Jacek Krawczyk.


Selmayr did not want top job, says predecessor

The controversial Martin Selmayr never wanted the promotion to top EU civil servant, according to his predecessor. That short-lived promotion saw criticism from both the European Ombudsman and the European Parliament as inflicting "reputational damage" on the EU.

News in Brief

  1. Bulgarian PM investigated over 'money laundering'
  2. Greenpeace breaks into French nuclear plant
  3. Germany increases police presence after shootings
  4. NGO: US and EU 'watering-down' tax reform prior to G20
  5. Iran: parliamentary elections, conservatives likely to win
  6. Belgian CEOs raise alarm on political crisis
  7. Germans voice anger on rise of far-right terrorism
  8. EU leaders' budget summit drags on overnight

This is the (finally) approved European Commission

MEPs gave the green light to the entire new European Commission during the plenary session in Strasbourg - but with the abstention of the Greens and a rejection by the leftist group GUE/NGL.


Welcome to the EU engine room

Welcome to the EU engine room: the European Parliament (EP's) 22 committees, which churn out hundreds of new laws and non-binding reports each year and which keep an eye on other European institutions.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  2. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December

Latest News

  1. No breakthrough at EU budget summit
  2. EU leaders struggling to break budget deadlock
  3. German ex-commissioner Oettinger lands Orban job
  4. How big is Germany's far-right problem?
  5. Plastic and carbon proposals to help plug Brexit budget gap
  6. Sassoli repeats EU budget rejection warning
  7. Why Miroslav Lajčák is the wrong choice for EU envoy
  8. Unhappy EU leaders begin budget haggle

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us