Even before their oral confirmation, two of the commissioners of the team of the future President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen were found "unfit" for conflict of interest, a blow for the new president of the European executive .
For the first time in its history, the Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI), in charge of validating the declarations of interest of the candidates, refused to give its approval to two people, the Romanian Social Democrat Rovana Plumb (Transport) and the Hungarian Laszlo Trocsanyi (EPP, Right, Neighborhood and Enlargement).
This was a preliminary step before a series of auditions of candidates by MEPs held from Monday and until 8 October.
The two commissioners are "unfit" to perform their duties, said German MEP Tiemo Wölken on Twitter. It is now up to Ursula von der Leyen to draw the consequences of this rejection for suspicions of conflict of interest. Their hearing will not take place.
"It was chaotic, but the deputies have, by a large majority, their duty to look after the general interest," said Marie Toussaint, French environmentalist, member of the JURI commission.
The decision of this commission is "a collection of lies, erroneous shortcuts and misleading amalgams", immediately reacted Mr. Trocsanyi in a statement.
Ms. Plumb is in the visor of Parliament for two loans in dispute. And Mr Trocsanyi was questioned about his relationship with the law firm he founded in 1991 before becoming Viktor Orban's Justice Minister.
The green light of the European Parliament is obligatory for the entry into office of the 26 Commissioners.
In the past, he did not hesitate to postpone, in 2014, a Slovenian candidate. As for the French socialist Pierre Moscovici and the Spanish conservative Miguel Arias Canete, they had been approved only in favor of an arrangement between the two main political forces of the parliament.
- "Blameless" -
Small thinning in the cloudy sky above the von der Leyen team, the European Anti-Fraud Office, Olaf, closed Friday evening the investigation concerning the Polish Janusz Wojciechowski. He recommended the reimbursement of travel expenses dating from his mandate as MEP, up to 11,250 euros, but dismissed administrative or judicial proceedings. This recovery has already been done.
Olaf is conducting a second investigation into a candidate commissioner, the French Sylvie Goulard, also a former MEP. The file is still open, but it has already refunded 45,000 euros gross refunds of undue expenses.
Mrs Goulard (Internal Market) has received the green light from the Committee on Legal Affairs, but should not escape the curiosity of the MEPs in charge of her hearing, as well as a handful of other colleagues whose cases will be closely scrutinized.
An investigation into corruption charges against the Belgian Didier Reynders (Justice) was dismissed Friday. The Spaniard Josep Borrell, in the running to be the new head of European diplomacy, was fined 30,000 euros for insider trading last year after selling shares in a company he was board member shortly before she announces herself on the verge of filing for bankruptcy.
"All the candidates will have a fair chance, but the candidates must convince us that they are qualified for the job and that their integrity is blameless", summarize the MEPs from the EPP group as the hearings approach.
MEPs could also attack not the person but the job titles. That of Executive Vice President for "Protection of our European way of life", attributed to the Greek Margaritis Schinas, who must oversee migration and home affairs policies, has created controversy.
"This title must change," said Friday on Twitter the S & D elected (left progressive) Sylvie Guillaume, who also regretted the absence of the terms "social", "culture" or "research" in portfolios or a dark post dedicated to "Democracy and Demography".
In response to Parliament's demands, Mrs von der Leyen's room for maneuver is very narrow since she was confirmed by MEPs with a majority of only 9 votes.
© 2019 AFP