24th Mar 2019

MEPs back Romanian commissioner despite 'indecent' job task

Despite its criticism over the multilingualism portfolio of the new Romanian commissioner, the European Parliament is set to support the nominee, with the socialists pointing out it is not his fault that commission chief Barroso "lacks imagination."

Following last month's hearings of the Romanian and Bulgarian nominees Leonard Orban and Meglena Kuneva are set to be approved by MEPs in a plenary vote scheduled for next week's plenary session in Strasbourg.

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

While both candidates received a positive assessment from deputies, Mr Orban's job tasks were questioned before and after the hearing, with the socialist group voicing the strongest criticism.

According to some insiders, European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso had considered linking Mr Orban's multilingualism portfolio with ehnic minorities - as suggested by some MEPs during the debate.

However, in a letter to the conference of presidents - the parliament's group leaders - which is set to meet on Thursday (7 December), Mr Barroso once again spelled out his arguments defending the tasks of the Romanian commissioner-in waiting, with no hint at other changes.

He highlighted his idea of Mr Orban's future role in "inter-cultural dialogue at EU level", which he first came up with after criticism that the multilingualism job is merely administrative - only dealing with the commission's interpreters and translators.

He now argues that "without the knowledge of languages, we cannot move beyond the multicultural to the intercultural."

In practise however, Slovak culture commissioner Jan Figel "will remain responsible for the management of actions to directly promote the inter-cultural dialogue," stressed the commission president.

'Very weak'

Socialist group leader Martin Schultz reacted by saying that Mr Barroso's letter was "very weak" and "it shows that the commission president lacks imagination."

However, the socialists will support Mr Orban to take up the job next January - when both Romania and Bulgaria join the EU.

"We are still not happy about the portfolio and we think it is insufficient," socialist vice-president Hannes Swoboda told EUobserver.

"But he can not suffer just because Mr Barroso is unable to find him a decent portfolio," he added.

Centre-right EPP faces showdown with Orban

The EU's largest political alliance, the EPP, will try to put the 'Orban issue' behind it going into the European election campaign. Hungary's ruling party, Fidesz, could be expelled or suspended from the political family.

EU countries push for new rule of law surveillance

Germany and Belgium have put forward a proposal for a "peer review" of EU countries' legal systems as member states and EU institutions struggle with disciplining member states that break EU rules.

Orban hosts Weber in Budapest for EPP showdown

The future of the Viktor Orban's Fidesz party inside the European Parliament's centre-right EPP political group hangs in the balance. On Tuesday, Orban and EPP chief Manfred Weber meet in Budapest in a final effort to iron out differences.

EPP hits threshold to trigger Orban expulsion probe

At least seven national parties from Europe's biggest political alliance, the centre-right European People's Party, want the group's 'enfant terrible', Hungary's nationalist and authoritarian Fidesz kicked out - following Budapest's latest anti-EU campaign.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders at summit demand more effort on disinformation
  2. Report: Corbyn to meet May on Monday for Brexit talks
  3. Petition against Brexit attracts 2.4m signatures
  4. Study: Brexit to cost EU citizens up to €40bn annually
  5. NGOs demand France halt Saudi arm sales
  6. Report: Germany against EU net-zero emissions target
  7. Former top EU official takes job at law firm
  8. Draft text of EU summit has Brexit extension until 22 May


Catalan independence trial is widening Spain's divides

What is really needed is not the theatre of a rebellion trial, but a forensic examination of whether public funds were misused, and a process of dialogue and negotiation on how the Catalan peoples' right to self-determination can be satisfied.

Orban hosts Weber in Budapest for EPP showdown

The future of the Viktor Orban's Fidesz party inside the European Parliament's centre-right EPP political group hangs in the balance. On Tuesday, Orban and EPP chief Manfred Weber meet in Budapest in a final effort to iron out differences.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  2. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean
  3. Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK
  4. EU avoids Brexit crash, sets new date for 12 April
  5. Campaigning commissioners blur the lines
  6. Slovakia puts squeeze on free press ahead of election
  7. EPP suspends Orban's Fidesz party
  8. Macron is confusing rigidity with strength

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us