Wednesday

21st Nov 2018

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.

Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot

Authorities in Budapest confirmed the former prime minister of Macedonia, fleeing a jail sentence in his own country, has filed for asylum. Despite Hungary's strict asylum laws, the pro-Kremlin politician was not turned away.

Merkel calls for 'real, true' EU army

Angela Merkel's much-anticipated speech to the European Parliament was brief and to the point. Her message: Europe is alone in the world, the EU should be more united on defence, but not on the economy.

EU action on Hungary and Poland drowns in procedure

EU ministers' discussion on how to address rule of law issues in Poland and Hungary gets stuck on procedural issues, while Viktor Orban's government claims it is a target of the Brussels elite because of its anti-migration stance.

News in Brief

  1. Hungary grants asylum to ex-Macedonia PM
  2. UK court rules against government in Article 50 case
  3. May to meet Juncker on Wednesday to finalise Brexit deal
  4. Future of EU's Mediterranean naval mission in doubt
  5. EU budget talks for 2019 collapse
  6. EU mulls new Russia sanctions over Ukraine 'elections'
  7. EU farm chief 'confident' sugar prices will recover
  8. Researcher: EU expert groups still imbalanced and opaque

Opinion

On Armistice Day, EU is still best gift we can give our children

While young people fought each other in 1918, young people in 2018 travel to study together under the Erasmus programme. But there is a risk of limiting our commemoration to representing the past through just speeches, museum exhibits and visits.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Boycott threats mount on eve of Interpol election
  2. EU parliament to renege on transparency promises
  3. Cyprus and Greece to create EU spy academy
  4. MEPs likely to delay vote on greater transparency
  5. Cold shoulder for Franco-German euro budget plan
  6. Whistleblower: Danske Bank gag stops me telling more
  7. Spain raises Gibraltar, as EU and UK talk post-2020 relationship
  8. Panic is not answer to EU's security challenges

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us