Thursday

23rd May 2019

Greens write letter of complaint over new Spanish commissioner

  • The Spanish nominee is in the Greens' line of fire (Photo: La Moncloa Gobierno de España)

The Green faction in the European Parliament has written to incoming European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker to raise concerns about the Spanish nominee for his team.

The letter notes there are "mounting concerns and criticism" about Miguel Arias Canete, who is slated to take on the energy and climate action portfolio.

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

It says that while Canete's "direct links" to the oil industry were severed when he sold his shares in two companies (Petrolifera Ducar and Petrologis Canaris) earlier this month, it is "still insufficient evidence for him to be able to claim to 'avoid the slightest notion of potential conflict of interest'."

"His wife, son and brother in law all remain as either shareholders or board members of these companies," it continues.

The letter also draws attention to the fact that Spanish media and NGOs have raised "serious suspicions that these personal and family interests have been partly hidden, through tax-evasion mechanisms".

The Green group, which is the second smallest of the seven factions in the parliament, with 50 MEPs, asks Juncker whether he was aware of the Spaniard's potential conflict of interest and how he will ensure Canete's independence is "actually beyond doubt".

The letter comes just ahead of the European Parliament's hearings of all commissioners, beginning next week.

MEPs do not have the power to veto individual commissioner candidates but won the de facto right back in 2004 when they forced a change of the Italian and Latvian nominees.

Canete's name has popped up several times as someone who may face problems due to his shares in the oil energy. He tried to pre-empt any trouble by selling them on 18 September.

But the Greens and other pro-environment MEPs were set to give anyone in the post a tough grilling, as the portfolio merges energy and climate action, which critics say already represents a downgrading of environment in the Juncker commission.

Canete is due to be heard on Wednesday (1 October) by the industry and environment committees - two power committees which often have strongly differing views on proposed EU legislation.

The hearings as a whole kick off on Monday with the incoming trade commissioner, Cecilia Malmstrom, one of the first in the hot seat.

MEPs are expected to pay particular attention to the seven vice-presidents, who will have extra oversight powers, to work out exactly how they will wield them.

Frans Timmermans, the Dutch commissioner, who is to be the 'first' vice-president will have a special hearing with all political group leaders as his job - to curb red-tape and maintain inter-institutional relations - will cut across all departments.

Juncker's economic balancing act

Even Jean-Claude Juncker’s critics would agree that the new Commission president is a skilled deal-maker.

Spain's Canete entangled in EP political battle

A stormy EP hearing with Spain’s Canete on Wednesday ended with the Socialists seeking a delay on his approval, as part of a bigger confrontation between political groups.

Key details on how Europeans will vote

It's one of the biggest democratic exercises in the world with over 400 million eligible voters. National rules apply, and national parties run, but the stakes are at European level.

Interview

Populists 'could be the opposition parliament needs'

Dutch historian and writer Luuk van Middelaar argues populists could be the new opposition in the next European Parliament and a better reflection of EU public opinion - thus actually reinforcing the body's status.

News in Brief

  1. Poll: Denmark set to double number of liberal MEPs
  2. European brands 'breaking' chemical safety rules
  3. Report: Merkel was lobbied to accept EU top job
  4. May struggling to get Brexit deal passed at fourth vote
  5. German MPs show interest in 'Magnitsky' sanctions
  6. CoE: Rights violations in Hungary 'must be addressed'
  7. EU affairs ministers rubber-stamp new ban on plastics
  8. Private companies campaign to boost turnout in EU poll

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us