26th Oct 2016

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".

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

Spain's Socialists ease Rajoy's path to power

The Socialists agree to abstain in a confidence vote later this week, meaning conservative leader Mariano Rajoy should be able to form a minority government after 10 months of deadlock.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU-China ForumDebating the Future of the EU-China Relations on 28 November in Prague
  2. COMECEMigrants: From Fear to Compassion
  3. Birdlife EuropeBusiness as Usual - Juncker Snubs Environment and Protects Broken CAP
  4. EFADraft Bill for a 2nd Scottish Independence Referendum
  5. UNICEFCalls on European Council to Address Plight of Refugee and Migrant Children
  6. ECTAJoin us on 9-10 November in Brussels and Discover the new EU Digital Landscape
  7. Access NowCan you Hear me now? Verizon’s Opportunity to Stand for Global Users
  8. Belgrade Security ForumMeaningful Dialogue Missing Not Only in the Balkans, but Throughout Europe
  9. EuropecheEU Fishing Sector Celebrates Sustainably Sourced Seafood in EU Parliament
  10. World VisionWomen and Girls Urge EU Leadership to Help end Gender-based Violence
  11. Belgrade Security ForumGet the Latest News and Updates on the Belgrade Security Forum @BelSecForum
  12. Crowdsourcing Week EuropeMaster Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding and Innovation! Conference 21 November - 10% Discount Code CSWEU16