Monday

22nd Jan 2018

Spain's Canete entangled in EP political battle

  • Over 270,000 EU citizens have signed a petition against the Spanish candidate (Photo: Valentina Pop)

A stormy hearing with Spain’s Miguel Arias Canete on Wednesday (1 October) ended with the Socialists seeking a delay on his approval, as part of a bigger confrontation between political groups.

"Socialists and Democrats asked for the postponement of the vote on commissioner designate Miguel Arias Canete ahead of a meeting between the spokespersons of all political groups in the energy and environment parliamentary committees tomorrow morning," they said in an emailed statement late on Wednesday night.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Several sources told this website the centre-left group wants to hold off on centre-right Canete until a decision is made on Pierre Moscovici, a Socialist commissioner from France, who’s hearing in the European Parliament is on Thursday morning.

The logic is that if Canete falls, then the centre-right will react by canning the Socialist candidate in revenge.

A Liberal candidate, Vera Jourova from the Czech republic is also put on hold for more questions. Jourova did not impress MEPs on her suitability as a commissioner for justice, consumer affairs and gender equality - a mixed-bag portfolio.

With Britain's Jonathan Hill up for a second hearing with MEPs next week on financial services, commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker could also intervene by reallocating some dossiers among the wobbly candidates to avoid the scenario of one rejection triggering a domino effect of other rejections.

The most contentious issue is giving oversight on energy and climate change to Canete, who only just sold his shares in two oil companies.

From the outset of his hearing, Socialist, Green and leftist MEPs zoomed in on Canete's family interests in the firms.

Canete said he went "beyond the legal requirements" by selling all of his shares, as did his wife and his son, who used to be chairman of one of the companies.

But the opposition MEPs were not satisfied.

They repeatedly asked him about his brother-in-law, who reportedly took over Canete's family interests and who now sits on the boards of the two oil firms.

Canete tried to dodge the question several times. Then he argued that a brother-in-law cannot be considered "direct family."

He rejected claims from one MEP, who said that the brother-in-law has been his business partner for years. He also said the oil firms are "small, with 10-15 employees" each and are "only into logistics, not oil extraction, in two small harbours".

But despite his efforts, Socialist MEP Kathleen Van Brempt said after the hearing that: “We didn't get good answers on the potential conflict between his family ties with the oil industry in Spain and his portfolio”.

Van Brempt is also insisting for the vote on Canete to be postponed until there is a legal opinion on the fact he changed his financial declaration after Juncker gave him the energy and climate portfolio.

The Socialists' spokesman on climate, Matthias Groote, said Canete "made many general statements about the importance of climate change and the need to mainstream sustainability in all policy areas. However, he did not convince our group of his genuine belief in what he said."

Ahead of the hearing, a few dozen people mainly from left-wing and Green groups protested outside the parliament, holding up banners which said "Stop Canete".

They also referred to his comments that women are not as smart as men and that immigrants are lazy.

In his hearing, Canete said right at the start that his sexist comments were "a mistake" and apologised.

The story was corrected at 11.00 to say that Vera Jourova is no longer a Social-Democrat, but a Liberal politician.

MEPs summon UK's Hill to second hearing

MEPs have summoned the UK’s European Commission nominee, Jonathan Hill, to a second hearing amid concerns on Banking Union and Eurobonds.

Decision day for EU's at-risk commissioners

On the last day of commissioner hearings, MEPs will decide what to do with remaining at-risk candidates after rejecting Hungary's Navracsics on culture.

Catalonia prepares for rule by Skype

The two biggest parties in Catalonia have vowed to put Puigdemont back in office despite Madrid's threat to maintain direct rule.

News in Brief

  1. Abbas in Brussels to discuss Palestinian state recognition
  2. Exiled Catalan leader leaves Belgium for first time
  3. CSU politicians set to oppose concessions to SPD
  4. Greek mass protests against use of 'Macedonia' in name dispute
  5. Oxfam report reveals inequality as Davos elite gather
  6. Macron: France would probably have voted to quit EU
  7. Germany confirms attendance at air quality summit
  8. Nearly half of 'fixed' Dieselgate cars show problems

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Solutions for Sustainable Cities: New Grants Awarded for Branding Projects
  2. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersOresund Inspires Other EU Border Regions to Work Together to Generate Growth
  4. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  5. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Calls on EU to Sanction Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Expel Ambassadors
  6. Dialogue PlatformRoundtable on "Political Islam, Civil Islam and The West" 31 January
  7. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  8. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  9. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society
  10. ACCAWelcomes the Start of the New Bulgarian Presidency
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li and President Tusk Stress Importance of Ties at ASEM Summit
  12. EU2017EEVAT on Electronic Commerce: New Rules Adopted

Latest News

  1. How Oettinger's CO2 permit sale could fill Brexit blackhole
  2. New Polish foreign minister tries to charm EU commission
  3. Middle East, Messi and missing MEPs on the agenda This WEEK
  4. Instagram and Google Plus join EU anti-hate speech drive
  5. EU wants 'entrepreneurship' in education systems
  6. UK loses EU satellite centre to Spain
  7. Pay into EU budget for market access, Macron tells May
  8. Ethiopian regime to get EU migrants' names

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressChair of EU Parliament Working Group on Antisemitism Condemns Wave of Attacks
  2. Counter BalanceA New Study Challenges the Infrastructure Mega Corridors Agenda
  3. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  4. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% Plastics Recycling Rate Attainable by 2025 New Study Shows
  5. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  6. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  7. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  8. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  10. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  11. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  12. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap