2nd Jun 2020

Slovene commissioner criticised across the board

From the first until the 45th and last question at a European Parliament hearing on Monday (6 October), Alenka Bratusek remained polite, thanking each member of parliament for their question.

But towards the end of the interrogation, more and more of the Slovene’s answers were preceded by a sigh.

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  • "I admit I might be repeating myself", said Bratusek (Photo: European Commission)

Bratusek, who has been asked by Jean-Claude Juncker to become vice-president of Energy Union in his new commission, had a difficult afternoon.

Repeatedly asked to provide details on how the EU can be made more energy independent, and lead climate negotiations, MEPs from all political colours expressed disappointment at the former prime minister’s answers.

“You haven't given one concrete answer”, Danish centre-left MEP Jeppe Kofod said towards the end of the three-hour hearing.

British Conservative MEP Julie Girling referred to her “bland statements” while German leftist deputy accused Bratusek of being the “mistress of generalisation”.

Bratusek, a Liberal politician, maintained her style of answering throughout the grilling. First, by taking several seconds to thank the member for the question. Then by repeating an element of what she had already said in her opening statement.

The Slovene, who only entered national politics in her country in 2011, did not try to hide her repetitiveness in her answers.

“I admit I might be repeating myself”, she said at one point.

Bratusek also had to admit she was “not familiar with the case” a couple of times. After a question by Yannick Jadot, a French Green, she only used one minute of the two minutes she was given for each answer, saying “there is not much I can add”.

Bratusek was not only pushed to give more detailed responses, but was also asked to explain how she was chosen for the vice-president post in the first place.

She was prime minister of Slovenia and shortly after losing an election earlier this year was accused by the opposition of nominating herself for the Brussels position.

She denies that she was the only candidate, saying that Ljubljana sent a shortlist of three names to Juncker, after which he picked her. “You should ask him,” she said.

Additionally she was dismissive of a question about why she had not yet picked up a letter by Slovenia’s corruption committee which is looking into the nomination matter.

She said she had “never been at odds with the law” and the worst thing she had ever done was get a parking and speeding ticket.

MEPs meanwhile kept asking for “some glimpse” of how Bratusek would bring about an Energy Union but she kept her answers very simple.

“I really tried to get a concrete answer”, Dutch Green MEP Bas Eickhout told EUobserver after the hearing.

“This was not good. If you ask me, she is unfit. Sure, she could have had an off-day, but she knew she would get a tough hearing”, he added

The centre-right EPP group, the biggest in the parliament, also said it was unconvinced by Bratusek’s hearing.

“This was a surprisingly weak performance from a candidate that is supposed to hold the responsible task of being Vice-President of the European Commission,” said Latvian deputy Krisjanis Kariņs.

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