Monday

13th Jul 2020

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.

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 subscribe as a group

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.

News in Brief

  1. Croatia opens for US tourists, defying EU ban
  2. Poll: only 61% of Germans would get Covid-19 vaccine
  3. UK to spend €788m on new UK-EU border control system
  4. Berlin wants first use of EU cyber sanctions on Russia
  5. Erdogan warns neighbours over hydrocarbon reserves
  6. Bulgaria: political crisis amid anti-corruption protests
  7. Pope and Turkish-German leader join Hagia Sophia protest
  8. France and UK create joint migrant intelligence unit

Column

The opportunistic peace

This will be the most selfish act in recent economic history. It will burden future generations and by no means make the weakest member states better off.

Opinion

On toppling statues

The internationally-acclaimed author of King Leopold's Ghost, Adam Hochschild, writes on Belgium's problems with statues, in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Latest News

  1. Poland's EU-battles to continue as Duda wins tight vote
  2. EU 'in-person' summit plus key data privacy ruling This WEEK
  3. Let's have positive discrimination for EU stagiaires
  4. We need to do more for our small and medium-sized enterprises
  5. Romania's virus surge prompts queues and new worries
  6. Michel lays out compromise budget plan for summit
  7. Border pre-screening centres part of new EU migration pact
  8. EU 'failed to protect bees and pollinators', report finds

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us