Wednesday

19th Jun 2019

Romania makes u-turn on European Commission candidate

Bucharest has put forward a new candidate for the job of Romania's EU commissioner after the previous nominee withdrew due to concerns in Brussels over his European credentials.

Romanian media suggest the country's EU negotiator Leonard Orban is the new commissioner-designate after liberal senator Varujan Vosganian withdrew from the running for the top job on Saturday (28 October).

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  • Romania's prime minister Calin Popescu-Tariceanu has proposed a new candidate for the Brussels job (Photo: European Commission)

The withdrawal followed last week's meeting with European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, which failed to result in his official nomination, unlike the case in Bulgaria's nomination of Meglena Kuneva.

Mr Vosganian was accused by domestic media of past contacts with the communist Romanian secret service - the Securitate - while Brussels was not impressed with his lack of experience in EU affairs and some prominent socialists in the European Parliament questioned his business links.

Playing down the allegations, Mr Vosganian stepped aside arguing he did not want to cause a delay in the appointment of the Romanian commissioner and to damage his country's image abroad.

Romanian prime minister Calin Popescu-Tariceanu welcomed the gesture, saying he believed the media speculations about Mr Vosganian's past "do not have any real basis and that all of this will be clarified in the near future."

The European Commission president is set to consider a new candidate this week - with Leonard Orban, Romania's deputy European Affairs minister and the country's previous chief negotiator with the EU having the best chance, according to Romanian press.

The other personality featuring in media reports, foreign minister Mihai Razvan Ungureanu, said on Sunday that he had turned down the offer as he wanted to continue in his current job in Bucharest instead, Realitatea TV reported.

The EU executive is set to announce the Romanian nominee and his portfolio early this week, with a European Parliament hearing of the two new members of the college scheduled for November and the MEPs' official vote to take place in December.

The Bulgarian commissioner designate, Ms Kuneva, has been appointed to take over the consumer protection portfolio, but it is not yet clear which will area her future Romanian colleague will cover.

EU urges Swiss to move on talks or face sanction

The EU commission tells Switzerland that clarifications to the draft deal are possible - but not renegotiations. The message is clear to 'Brexit' Britain as well: the Swiss model is over, there are no special agreements.

EU leaders task Tusk to find commission chief by June

With national leaders and the European Parliament divided over who to put forward for the commission presidency, the EU Council president will now start negotiations with all sides - hoping to come up with an answer by next month.

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