Monday

18th Feb 2019

Schulz walks careful line on politics of EP commissioner hearings

EU commissioner candidates will be tested primarily on their expertise, EP chief Martin Schulz said on Wednesday (16 July) after previously indicating that the British hopeful could be rejected on political grounds.

"They will not be judged on political criteria," said Schulz, adding that the nominees, who will be heard in the committee related to their dossier, will be quizzed on their "competence".

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

He made the clarification following an interview with German Radio in which he said "I don't think that Jonathan Hill with his radical anti-European views - in so far as he has such views - will get a majority in the European Parliament."

British PM David Cameron put forward Lord Hill for the EU post on Tuesday, and subsequently said he wants a large economic portfolio for him.

Largely unknown either in the UK or beyond, his nomination was met with a large question mark in Brussels.

Referring to Hill's background, Schulz conceded that Lord Hill's reviews on the EU are moderate.

"Friends have told me that he is rather pro-European for the UK context," he said, noting that he will be "handled" just like all the other candidates.

But the EP chief noted that politics will play a role, too, when commissioners are being grilled by MEPs.

"You can never exclude that politics will occur in a parliament."

"In the past we have had cases where individual commissioners were rejected because a majority in the parliament felt their positions were contrary to the basic values of the European Union. That is of course politics."

The European Parliament is formally only allowed to reject the EU commission as a whole. But it has previously managed to use the threat of this power to reject individual nominees.

Meanwhile, following the asembly's success in changing how the EU commission president is chosen - for the first time it was no longer a perogative of EU leaders - MEPs are already looking to further change the 2019 EU election.

"Following the election campaign we've just had, there is a pretty strong will in parliament to look at a single European statute. Several people have already said this to me," said Schulz.

However, this would also need the agreement of member states.

EP to vote down commission with too few women

EU parliament chief Schulz has warned national governments his institution will reject the incoming college of commissioners if there are not enough women in it.

EP gears itself up for hearings of new commissioners

The European Parliament is preparing a set of "obstacle course" hearings for incoming EU commissioners with recent past form showing that at least one of the designates will fall by the wayside.

Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table

EU probes into Hungary and Poland on rule of law and democracy are back on the agenda of EU affairs ministers - but with little guidance from the Romanian presidency, without a clear idea where the procedures are headed.

Calls for Tajani's resignation over Slovenia, Croatia row

The European Parliament's Italian president referred to Croatia and Slovenia as former Italian regions at the weekend, sparking outrage. Although Antonio Tajani apologised, somer former leaders and MEPs are now calling for his resignation.

MEPs call on EU countries to deal with Hungary

MEPs who launched a procedure examining the democratic situation in Hungary last year now want member states to step up efforts. The government in Budapest meanwhile accuses MEPs of attacking Hungary over migration.

News in Brief

  1. Spain's Sanchez calls snap election on 28 April
  2. 15,000 Belgian school kids march against climate change
  3. May suffers fresh Brexit defeat in parliament
  4. Warning for British banks over Brexit staff relocation
  5. Former Italian PM wants Merkel for top EU post
  6. Antisemitic incidents up 10% in Germany
  7. Italy's asylum rejection rate at record high
  8. Hungary will not claim EU funds for fraudulent project

Opinion

Italy will keep blinking in 2019

Italy's 'marriage of convenience' coalition government likes picking battles with Brussels. But with the economy now in recession, and deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini needing to keep the business lobby on board, expect Rome to blink first.

Opinion

The test for Sweden's new government

While the formation of a new government ends Sweden's fourth-month paralysis, it doesn't resolve the challenge from radical-right populists in Sweden. A key question remains: will treating populists like pariahs undercut the appeal of their, often anti-rights, politics?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Latest News

  1. Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table
  2. Could Finnish presidency fix labour-chain abuse?
  3. Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK
  4. Belgian spy scandal puts EU and Nato at risk
  5. EU Parliament demands Saudi lobby transparency
  6. Saudi Arabia, but not Russia, on EU 'dirty money' list
  7. EU agrees draft copyright reform, riling tech giants
  8. Rutte warns EU to embrace 'Realpolitik' foreign policy

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us