european-parliamentThe 27 commissioners-designate start their hearings in the European Parliament today. Although the Parliament has no power to veto individual commissioners, it can threaten to withhold approval of the Commission as a whole. In the past, this has meant it usually gets it way and any candidates it objects to are swiftly replaced.

The Spanish Energy & Climate Commissioner, Miguel Arias Cañete, is under particular scrutiny for his family’s business links with oil companies. However, other candidates will also have to work hard to convince MEPs, including Hungary’s ex-foreign minister, Tibor Navracsics, who will be responsible for education, culture, youth and citizenship at a time when the Hungarian government is being criticised for cracking down on foreign-funded NGOs.

Lord Jonathan Hill, the British candidate, is also expected to receive a grilling over his independence from his home government, given how important financial services are to the UK economy. Meanwhile, the proposed Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, former French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici, will be under scrutiny because of accusations he won’t be strict enough when it comes to debt and deficit rules.

Earlier this month, we had a comment sent in by Lino arguing that the new Juncker Commission will be too close to the financial sector and too focused on austerity:

citizen_icon_180x180If you had it bad with Barroso, Juncker will be the same or even worse. [The new Commission will be too close to] the banking system, as it’s showing already by nominating Carlos Moedas, a Goldman Sachs employee. The EU will be a slave to the [financial sector] and the TTIP agreement.

We recently spoke to Ska Keller, a German MEP and former Green candidate for President of the European Commission. Does she agree with Lino’s criticism?

We also put the same comment to Michael Theurer, a German liberal MEP. However, he explained that he had very different concerns:

theurerWe are more worried that the new Juncker Commission might be too far to the centre-left, especially too willing to give up fiscal discipline and structural reforms. So, from my point of view, as a German liberal, I will focus very much in the hearings on these aspects. For instance, especially with Mr Moscovici, who did not perform very well as a finance minister in France and shall now be in charge of the surveillance of fiscal discipline in the Member States. So, that is our major concern because we have to overcome the sovereign debt crisis in the Member States.

Next, we put Lino’s criticism to Siegfried Mureşan, a centre-right Romanian MEP who sits with the European People’s Party (EPP) – the same group as Jean-Claude Juncker – in the European Parliament. How would he respond?

murseanWhat Lino might not know is that Jean-Claude Juncker, who we always tend to bash as being too close to the banks and as coming from a tax haven, was in favour of implementing a Financial Transactions Tax – including in his own country – if all of the EU Member States did it.

In the end, only eleven countries agreed, so he said he couldn’t do it because it would lead to a competitive disadvantage in Luxembourg vis-à-vis London, Dublin and so on. But if you have a President of the Commission who is ready to continue and widen the necessary regulation of the banking system even if it has an impact on his own country, then I’m not worried.

As for the Portuguese Commissioner, Carlos Moedas, what will he be in charge of? He will be in charge of Research, Innovation and Science. How relevant is his past with Goldman Sachs? I would be more worried if he were in charge of financial regulation, which he won’t be.

Next, we had a comment sent in by JH, asking why regulation of medicines was being moved from the Directorate-General for Health to the Directorate-General for Industry in the new Commission. How would Ska Keller respond to this?

Finally, we received a comment from Cosmin who was very supportive of the new Commission. He said:

citizen_icon_180x180I am really glad for the Commissioners for Justice [Věra Jourová from the Czech Republic] and Regional Policy [Romania’s Corina Crețu] as well as for the Super-Commissioner for Budget [Bulgaria’s Kristalina Georgieva]. The team on the whole looks great and I trust they will have no problems whatsoever getting through Parliament.

We put this comment to Siegfried Mureşan. Was he as confident that there would be no problems getting the candidates through the hearing process?

murseanAs far as I’m concerned, I will be asking tough questions to all Commissioners, even to those coming from my political family. So, I won’t make a distinction when asking questions between an EPP or a Socialist Commissioner, because it’s not important whether they have a blue flag or a red flag in their hand. What’s important is that they are up to their jobs.

I think there will be tough questions from all MEPs, but I think Jean-Claude Juncker was very wise in putting this team together so I don’t really see huge vulnerabilities in terms of Commissioners who have said or done unacceptable things in the past. So, if you’re asking me now to pick out two or three names of Commissioners who will fail, I wouldn’t be able to give you any names.

Will the new Juncker Commission be too soft on austerity? Or will it be too close to the banking system? Do you think the candidates for EU Commissioners will all make it through the European Parliament hearings? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – European Parliament

35 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Alex Tselentis

    How about stopping the war in Ukraine ? Ending these silly sanctions imposed on Europe/Russia by the US, that only hurt Europe in the end .. What is all this debate worth if Europe is plunged into a state of war ? Itsfast heading that way, forget the ceasfire in Ukraine, round 2 is comingg up .. WW3.

    • avatar
      Thomas D

      I greatly doubt that.

  2. avatar

    Actually there are not too many choices out there. Keeping the austerity course and steer away from it. Austerity applied for an extended period of time over southern economies will end up in no Union. I hope Junker is aware of it.

  3. avatar
    Antonio Pedro Bernarda

    I kinda wished yhe “yes” won in Scotland. It would made things easier. Just kick the UK out and give their seat to Scotland.

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      @Antonio Pedro Bernarda
      Let us hope Juncker does not decide to double-up on austerity otherwise Portugal might end up corrupt.

      Oh, err it already is according to Transparency International.

  4. avatar

    As a Swiss I could care less if the EU goes hard on austerity or not, we pay your bills, we lend you money, we buy your products, we r&d your products, you people are welcome to join the Swiss Federation, but not nation by nation, more likely Village by Village and City by City, we have to do some Swissization of you first before we can call you truly Swiss lol.

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      Erm. please don’t tar the UK with the brush of the in-continents!

  5. avatar
    Carmel Camilleri

    Austerity is not the solution for economic growth, but creates jobless and weakened the working class. EU needs to pump money to the working class and create more steady jobs.

    • avatar

      And pass the debt on to the next generation…

      Governments borrowing money is precisely the problem, not only should governments not borrow money, they should at all times be banned from doing so.

      A politician that can borrow money to spend (and buy votes) now, and pass the bill to the next generations, will always do so.

      If you don’t borrow from these Wall Street leeches, they don’t have any leverage.

  6. avatar
    OC Sisley

    And all Together We will deliver

  7. avatar
    Tarquin Farquhar

    Juncker and his band of followers don’t know – its up to what Frau Merkel says!

    • avatar

      Initially, when first time J.C.Junker was announced his candidacy for “El Lider Maximo” of EU, Frau Merkel was hesitant, I might say “against”. Later on she swallow it, you cannot please everyone after all. It’s crucial for Europe sake to get rid either way of Merkel’s conservative (neo-liberal) views regarding financial policy. From inside populars or coming from socialists.

  8. avatar
    EU reform- proactive

    Too soft on austerity- or too soft politicians? Who is the culprit & who the judge?

    “Austerity” is the wrong word, since this disaster was invited and economically managed to happen- by ignoring the “warning bells to reduce a budget deficit” and remind politicians to adhere to a responsible fiscal policy.

    The ill-famed Maastricht Treaty in Article 126 has enshrined a “debt criterion”- of the ‘prudential’ limit of 60% of debt to GDP (40% is suggested) and a “deficit criterion”- as below 3% of annual economic output.

    Other well known commandments are:
    *You shall not steal.
    *You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
    *You shall not covet.

    The EU figures:

    For comparison debt to GDP: EURO area average: 92.6%, US: 101.5%, Switzerland 35.4%, Russia 13.4%, China 22.4%

    Prudent decisions cause short term pain and long term gain; the opposite brings short term gain with long term pain. Responsible & accountable politicians & banksters must equally share in the pain- not only the citizen.

    Please attach a new Article to this effect to the infamous M-Treaty!

  9. avatar
    Patrice Puchaux

    He is a great minister. Of course France is not a model for the budget rules but M. Moscovici did what he had to do to protect French economy. Our new Prime minister made the wrong decision when he fired him.
    M. Moscovici is an europhile and has the trust of our president to protect European budget like French one. He will be a great comissioner.

    • avatar

      Moscovici hates democracy.

  10. avatar
    Ivan Burrows

    Great idea.

    Find a man (Pierre Moscovici) who was responsible for destroying France’s economy & make him the commissioner for Financial Affairs for the whole of the EU !

    Thank God we are leave this madhouse.

  11. avatar
    eusebio manuel vestias pecurto

    The European crisis is a problem for all European Parliament and the governments of the eurozone have serious political oblication to define a change in the tax burden within the eurozone which means using a reasonable reform that benefits the economic and sustainable growth in europe

    • avatar

      Growth is by definition not sustainable because perpetual economix growth is impossible.

  12. avatar
    Nikolaos Sotirelis

    I don’t know who this guy is and what he represents, but somehow, someone must put an end to this catastrophic austerity! Otherwise the end of EU is near and not without consequences!

    • avatar

      Is that you, George W. Bush (either you’re with us or you’re a terrorist)?

      Just like Soviet dissidents did, we aim to bring it down from the inside. May take years or decades, but because of its similar undemocraticness and similar structures we aim to get the same result: the dissolution of the Eurosoviet Union (EU).

      We won’t let democracy die and we won’t tolerate some unelected Politburo being able to increasingly overrule elected national governments.

      Unlike you, it seems. To return the black-white language, either you are for democracy, or you’re for the EU.

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