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23rd Feb 2020

New Romanian commissioner completes line-up, bar UK

  • EU Commission president-elect Ursula von der Leyen wants her executive to be ready to go by the end of November (Photo: European Commission)

EU Commission president-elect Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday (6 November) approved MEP Adina Valean as the commissioner-designate for Romania - and she asked EU-exiting Britain to send a nominee.

Earlier on Wednesday, Romania's new centrist government had nominated fellow MEP Sigfriend Muresan, and Valean as candidates for the position, after the country's previous candidate was rejected by the European Parliament.

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Von der Leyen, who has been striving to put forward a gender-balanced commission, chose Valean, who will receive the transport portfolio.

"Romania today named two candidates for commissioner. Both candidates had interviews with the president-elect and did well. The president-elect decided for Adina Valean to take on the portfolio of transport," a spokesperson from von der Leyen's transition team said.

Von der Leyen on Wednesday also sent a letter to British prime minister Boris Johnson to urge him to nominate a UK commissioner for the new EU executive.

Since Brexit has been delayed until the end of January, the UK is obliged to send a commissioner under EU rules until it is no longer a member of the club.

"She [von der Leyen] also encourages the UK prime minister to propose female candidates, given von der Leyen's objective to have gender parity in her commission," commission spokeswoman Dana Spinant told reporters.

Spinant added that von der Leyen "invited" Johnson to reply " as soon as possible", since the new commission chief wants the European parliament to be able to vote on the new executive before the end of November.

Johnson, who is gearing up for an election campaign in the UK on 12 December, has said he would not nominate a new EU commissioner.

Hearings

As of Wednesday afternoon, the parliament had not yet received the official notification from the commission on the new commissioner candidates.

Valean, who is the chairwoman of the parliament's industry committee, will have to face European legislators in the parliament's transport committee on 14 November in Brussels.

France's Thierry Breton, who will oversee the EU's industrial policy, and Hungary's Oliver Varhelyi - who is expected to get the enlargement portfolio despite reservations in the parliament about Hungary's policy towards its neighbourhood - will also have to face MEPs.

In recent days, Brussels has been ripe with speculation about a possible switch between Romania's transport and Hungary's enlargement portfolios.

Previous candidates from those countries have also been rejected by the parliament.

Before the committees heatings, the parliament's legal affairs committee will review the commissioner-designates' in case there are conflicts of interest, as previously happened to several would-be commissioners.

As of Wednesday, the legal affairs committee have not received the necessary declarations from the commissioner-designates, but once the documents are in, the procedure can be quick, a source said.

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