Wednesday

22nd Sep 2021

Enlarged Commission approved

  • Those nominated for the Commission's next term can expect tougher hearings (Photo: European Commission)

The European Parliament has given its approval to the new formation of the European Commission which has added 10 members from the new EU entrants to its ranks.

With 531 votes in favour, 18 against and 39 abstentions, MEPs have given the go-ahead to the European Commission’s new size until it ends its term of office on 31 October this year.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Commission President Romano Prodi told them their job would not be easy. This is because "they are very visibly the face of the European Union for their fellow countrymen, and they have a crucial role to play during a period in which the new fellow citizens will be learning to trust the Union and learning about the way in which the European Union works".

Tougher hearings ahead

The 10 new Commissioners had to undergo questioning by MEPs last month on the particular policy areas that they will follow.

However, those that will stay on for the Commission’s new term, which takes up its duties on 1 November 2004, were warned that tougher hearings by MEPs are expected next time around.

"To date, our hearings of Commissioners have been handicapped by too much partisanship and too little sustained, in-depth questioning", Liberal leader Graham Watson said.

"All of the Commissioners nominated in November can expect tough questioning from MEPs of the political centre", he said.

Maltese in the spotlight

One new commissioner came in for some particularly tough scrutiny.

Dutch Socialist Margrietus van den Berg, Vice-chair of the Committee on Development and Co-operation, had harsh words for the Maltese Commissioner, Joe Borg.

"The new countries have got to meet the criteria. But with Joe Borg, as Commissioner designate, it was clear from the hearings that he was not prepared to make a success of the development and co-operation brief", he said.

Last month, a parliament committee hearing concluded that it remained "to be convinced of his [Mr Borg's] expertise and political vision in certain areas".

Three new from 'old' member states

Besides the new 10 Commissioners, the Prodi Commission also has three new faces from the "old" member states, replacing Commissioners who went back to national politics.

Greece's Anna Diamantopoulou has been replaced by Stavros Dimas, France's Michel Barnier by Jacques Barrot and Spain's Pedro Solbes by Joaquín Almunia.

The European Parliament urged member states to refrain from replacing members of the current Commission who retire before the end of this current term of office.

It also called for "a review of the procedure to cover circumstances in which individual members of the Commission retire before their term of office ends".

The Commissioners were also urged to refrain from engaging in domestic party politics.

Mr Prodi himself has been the object of a lot of this criticism, as last year he launched an election manifesto for the Italian left for the European elections.

MEPs to declare EU an LGBTI 'freedom zone'

The symbolic move is an attempt to buttress against right-wing governments' increased scapegoating of LGBTI people, particularly in Poland and Hungary.

Analysis

Relief in EPP group, as Orbán's party finally leaves

The debate over Fidesz had become an unbearable political burden on EPP - but it also represented a core dilemma for many centre-right, mainstream parties struggling to deal with their populist challengers.

EPP group moves forward to suspend Orban's Fidesz

MEPs are scheduled to vote on Wednesday to change the rules of procedure of the centre-right European People's Party parliamentary group to allow the suspension of a member party.

EU adds new 'dark red' zone to travel-restrictions map

The European Commission has proposed additional measures to limit non-essential travel within and to the European Union - amid fears over more transmissible mutations triggering a new surge in cases across the bloc.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed

Latest News

  1. French MEPs lead bogus EU monitoring of Russia vote
  2. Europeans think new 'Cold War' is here - but not for them
  3. Spain wants energy price discussion at next EU summit
  4. Trust in Dutch government drops, but not for Rutte
  5. Long ago, there was another Angela Merkel
  6. The first anniversary of the Abraham Accords
  7. First refugee deaths confirmed on Belarus-EU border
  8. EU kept in dark on ex-commissioner's new lobby job

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us