How the Commissioner-designates are grilled

The atmosphere in Brussels last week has been influenced by the coming hearing of the EU Commissioner-designates. While the individual candidates are finishing their preparations so they are familiar with all the details of the main aspects in their portfolio and ready to target all kinds of queries from the Members of the European Parliament, we MEPs have been fine tuning the scenario for the upcoming grilling. It was necessary to clarify how the grilling would be conceived, decide what to focus on, in which order and for how long the representatives of the individual fractions would discuss. As for the Czech candidate Vera Jourova it is already clear that she will be grilled on Wednesday 1 October in the afternoon. During three hours she will receive a total of 45 questions from four different committees. Each political fraction has been assigned a number of questions to ask.

The rules also apply to the length of the query, the MEPs have only one minute to ask their questions, while the candidates for Commissioner will have two minutes to answer. All in all it could remind of Michaela Jílková’s show Kotel (Boiler) in Czech television, if it had not been for the fact that the exercise ends with the crucial verdict in which the candidate gets the green light, or on the contrary, the candidate learns that according to the MEPs he or she is unfit to hold the position in the given area. This finding is not communicated to the proposed Commissioner immediately after the grilling; the decision is taken in a secret assessment by the coordinators of the various fractions in these committees and of the chairmen of these committees. During this evaluation I personally will represent the ALDE fraction, where I act as a coordinator for the area of consumer protection, which is one of the themes of the portfolio proposed just for Vera Jourová.

So, what queries can be expected? Basically, any question imaginable. The aim of the entire three-hour "exercise" is to demonstrate whether the candidate has the necessary qualifications, the experience and the knowledge for the performance of the proposed function; if there is not a conflict of interest, if he or she has a clear political vision of what he wants to achieve in the field, whether he or she can clearly articulate his or her thoughts and last but not least, if the candidate perceives the given issue in a European context. The Commissioner is not and cannot be a representative of a single state, but becomes the head of an independent institution for all member countries. The European Commission is the showcase of the European Union, so at a time when many people are ceasing to believe in the European project or have totally lost interest in it at all, it should be our aim to nominate such people to the head of this institution who are able to successfully tackle this new challenge.

Good luck, Vera!

Posted on (29/09/2014)