Thursday

15th Nov 2018

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.

Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM put 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. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  2. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May
  3. Denmark blocks Tanzania aid over homophobic crackdown
  4. Second UK cabinet minister resigns over Brexit deal
  5. UK Brexit secretary quits morning after deal agreed
  6. Romanian MPs call for national 'Magnitsky Act'
  7. Tusk: Brexit summit on Sunday 25 November
  8. Full text of Brexit withdrawal agreement published

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. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  2. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  3. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  4. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  5. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  6. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM put Orban on spot
  7. How the 'EU's Bank' fails to raise the bar on accountability
  8. Knives out on all sides for draft Brexit deal

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us