Sunday

25th Sep 2022

Interview

EP must be tougher on nominees, MEP says

  • 'I am French and I am very much surprised how it works here,' MEP Manon Aubry (c) said (Photo: European Parliament)

European commissioners ought to be forced to sell shares in firms that they will one day regulate, a French MEP on the coalface of an EU vetting process has said.

Cracking down on conflicts of interest might also mend trust with ordinary people, she added.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

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

... or subscribe as a group

"It's a big issue. I don't see how they [EU commissioners] can do their job independently, because if the companies do well they will earn more, and it's not as if we're talking about €500 worth of shares here - it's much more," French left-wing MEP Manon Aubry told EUobserver on Monday (23 September).

Aubry is one of the 25 MEPs on the European Parliament's (EP) legal affairs committee, a body tasked with checking the financial declarations of would-be commissioners.

She spoke after the committee, last week, raised concern on nine nominees' files.

It also discussed forcing sell-offs in portfolio clashes "as a rule", she said.

"I checked and we have the right to ask the commissioner to get rid of those shares on pain of not getting the green light, which is what we should do," she said.

The committee can issue "recommendations" that may include "renouncing the financial interests in question or changes to the portfolio of the commissioner-designate," the EP rulebook says.

As a "last resort", the parliamentary committee can even "conclude that the commissioner-designate is unable to exercise his or her functions", causing an imbroglio.

The parliament gave its legal affairs committee more robust powers last year.

But for Aubry, who used to be a spokeswoman for Oxfam, the international charity, in France, the EU vetting process still did not inspire confidence when seen close up.

The fact MEPs were allowed to play political games behind closed doors was not normal, the 29-year old politician said after coming to Brussels for the first time.

"You have to defend your [political family's] candidate ... or it puts you in a tricky position in your group," she said.

"This is one reason why the [EU] process is quite crude," she added.

"I am French and I am very much surprised how it works here compared to France. In France, we have to give much more detail [on financial interests], it's public scrutiny, and it's done by an independent body," she noted.

Initial enthusiasm for the forced sell-offs rule also tailed off when MEPs began to defend individual nominees from their political tribes, Aubry said.

And some of those who do not deserve the green light will probably get it anyway, she predicted.

The committee has until just Friday to make up its mind one way or the other, with nominees' public hearings set to start next week.

But EU commissioners ought to undergo stricter scrutiny because they wielded more power "than most ordinary Europeans realise," the MEP, who is with the far-left GUE/NGL group, noted.

Many people no longer trusted public officials and "one way to rebuild trust is to ensure that they [EU commissioners] are seen as whiter than white, that there's no reason to doubt their sincerity," Aubry said.

Those tricky commissioner candidates in full

Three central European commission nominees can expect to feel the heat from MEPs later this month, with the Hungarian candidate emerging as the most controversial.

News in Brief

  1. More Russians now crossing Finnish land border
  2. Report: EU to propose €584bn energy grid upgrade plan
  3. Morocco snubs Left MEPs probing asylum-seeker deaths
  4. EU urges calm after Putin's nuclear threat
  5. Council of Europe rejects Ukraine 'at gunpoint' referendums
  6. Lithuania raises army alert level after Russia's military call-up
  7. Finland 'closely monitoring' new Russian mobilisation
  8. Flights out of Moscow sell out after Putin mobilisation order

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  3. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  5. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling

Latest News

  1. Ireland joins EU hawks on Russia, as outrage spreads
  2. Editor's weekly digest: Plea for support edition
  3. Investors in renewables face uncertainty due to EU profits cap
  4. How to apply the Nuremberg model for Russian war crimes
  5. 'No big fish left' for further EU sanctions on Russians
  6. Meloni's likely win will not necessarily strengthen Orbán
  7. France latest EU member to step up government spending in 2023
  8. Big Tech now edges out Big Energy in EU lobbying

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us