Friday

20th Apr 2018

EUobserved

Death by 'hearings'

Please make it stop. Or should that be start? In the absence of news – aside from the stuff that’s happening outside, beyond and despite Brussels – we have ‘hearings’. Commissioner hearings.

It is a poor thing to fill this Brussels news vacuum. Yet filled it must be. For nothing else is happening in the EU capital. We’re waiting for Jean-Claude Juncker. Or, more precisely, we’re waiting for Juncker’s team.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Current commissioners are looking to other horizons. No one is saying anything of consequence. Or if they are, they shouldn’t be because, politically, they’re already out.

And the ones coming in aren’t saying anything either. They’re all swotting up on their new dossiers and getting their officials to explain to MEPs – in writing – why they are good Europeans. Whatever that should mean.

The Brussels press pack was beside itself when the Luxembourger at long last revealed what everyone would be doing for the next five years.

It was able to finally stop writing about Juncker’s farcically difficult quest to find nine women commissioners (after Belgium begrudgingly, in overtime, and under threat of its putative male commissioner being put in charge of the canteen, opted for a woman).

But that was two weeks ago now.

In the meantime it has been discussed ad nauseam how well the person matches the portfolio. What those seven 'super commissioners' will do. Whether Frans Timmermans, previously a foreign minister, moved up, sideways or down by taking charge of cutting red tape, even if he will be a 'first VP'. Whether Guenther Oettinger knows what the internet is. What's the difference between digital economy and digital single market. Do we need a commissioner for space. Who gets to sort out the 'Google issue'. Does it matter if you nominate yourself to be commissioner. Is Jyrki Katainen, aka "acknowledged fiscal hawk" a little bit evil. And who is Lord Hill.

And now it is the turn of the hearings. The European Parliament is all puffed up and preening. One commissioner must go. Preferably two. Then the apex of commissioner-toppling achievement - year 2004 - will be matched.

The EP is tweeting a countdown to the opening day - next Monday, after lunch. There are almost 200 pages of information on the matter. There have been several explanatory press conferences. The wanna-be commissioners will be grilled for three hours. They'll have 45 questions. Most will face one or two committees in the hearing - some a cacophonous five.

Who will fall by the wayside? There are known wobblers. And unknown ones. Letters have been written. Financial disclosures have been made. Shares have been sold. There is nothing else happening in Brussels.

It will be political, says the EP's spokesperson. It will certainly be party political.

Analysis

Success of Juncker team depends on 'uber-commissioners'

Incoming EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has come up with a canny distribution of portfolios for this new team but a layer of 'uber-commissioners' is potentially the most important change.

MEPs summon UK's Hill to second hearing

MEPs have summoned the UK’s European Commission nominee, Jonathan Hill, to a second hearing amid concerns on Banking Union and Eurobonds.

EUobserved

When two worlds collide

Two worlds collided at the end of last week. The shrill, uncompromising one of British politics and the technocratic, dry, world of the European Commission.

Analysis

New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability

The EU's latest funding rules for European political parties and their think tanks fails to address the underlying problems of abuse. Instead of tackling the loans and donations culture, it has simply made access to EU funds a lot easier.

Getting secret EU trilogue documents: a case study

On Thursday, the European Parliament will vote on a political deal on organic farming, following 19 months of behind-closed-doors negotiations. EUobserver here details a five-month odyssey to get access to the secret documents that led to the deal.

News in Brief

  1. MEPs urge better protection for journalists
  2. Dieselgate: MEPs back greater role for EU in car approvals
  3. European parliament adopts new organic farming rules
  4. EU granted protection to half million people in 2017
  5. Report: Facebook to carve 1.5bn users out of EU privacy law
  6. Greek court ruling permits migrants to travel to mainland
  7. Commonwealth summit hopes for trade boost after Brexit
  8. Merkel and Macron meet to finetune eurozone reform plans

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA EuropeParabéNs! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  2. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  3. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  4. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  5. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  6. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight
  8. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  9. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  10. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Must Work Together to Promote Global Steel Sector

Latest News

  1. Obscurity surrounds EU military fund's expert groups
  2. New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability
  3. Draghi to stay in secretive 'lobby' group
  4. Bulgaria offers lesson in tackling radical-right populists
  5. Getting secret EU trilogue documents: a case study
  6. Selmayr case scars Parliament and Commission
  7. Beyond macho: Turkish-EU ties
  8. 'Flobert' guns - Europe's latest terror loophole