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16th Feb 2019

UK's Hill set to survive after second hearing

  • UK commission candidate Jonathan Hill is likely to be approved as EU financial services chief on Wednesday. (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

Jonathan Hill is set to be approved as the EU's next financial services chief, following his second grilling in the European Parliament.

Speaking on Tuesday (7 October), for the second time in a week, with MEPs on the economic affairs committee, Hill again deployed his English charm to head off suspicious feelings.

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He also touted his credentials as a pro-European who would campaign to keep the UK in the EU.

He outlined a rosy vision for 2019, "when we are coming to the end of the first Juncker commission", predicting the EU would by then have exited its economic and social crisis, returned to financial stability, completed the banking union and kept the UK from leaving.

A deputy from the British eurosceptic party, Ukip’s Steven Woolfe, said Hill's predictions made him "the Nostradamus of the EU”.

But Hill replied that “given the choice of a strong, reformed EU close to its citizens, the British people will choose to remain in the European Union”.

Criticised by Green spokesman Sven Giegold for failing to provide the names of financial services companies he had worked for as a lobbyist, Hill refuted suggestions he would serve industry friends.

“This impression that's been created that I've been in the pocket of financial services … is not true," he said, adding he would not bring the commission into "dishonour".

The European Parliament's political group leaders are expected to reach a decision on commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker's team of nominees when they meet on Wednesday.

They will then send letters of recommendation on each of the 27 candidates to the commission chief.

Socialist and Green politicians had threatened to block Hill following his first hearing, saying he had failed to give substantive answers on financial regulation and Eurobonds.

But he drafted a 9,000 word response to 23 written questions sent to him by the committee.

In his closing remarks, Hill said he had sought to "overcome some suspicions of being a Brit and being a Brit with this portfolio”.

He described his relationship with the committee as "a peculiar courtship … I hope that we can turn this short relationship into something longer and more rewarding”.

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