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The great oral of the commissioners is not a synecure

(B2) For a week, the European Parliament has been in turmoil. This is the grand oral presentation of future European commissioners. An exercise which continues until Tuesday evening and is anything but a formality… Each candidate is heard by “his” parliamentary committee for three hours non-stop.

All questions are allowed

A hearing where all questions are allowed: political, technical, personal, etc. And, no time to hesitate: one minute for the question, one minute for the answer. In this little game, the slightest misstep and it's the door! The tension is therefore great. Some have already succeeded with flying colors, such as the Frenchman Michel Barnier (internal market) or the Spaniard Joaquin Almunia (Competition), with the " compliments of the jury we would say at university. For others, it was more laborious. Finland's Olli Rehn (Economy) or Britain's Catherine Ashton (Foreign Affairs) only received a passable mention. Even the most experienced can stumble. The Dutch Neelie Kroes (Digital Society), hitherto Commissioner for Competition, was thus asked to spend this week a " remedial oral ».

A failure…

For the moment, there is only one failed: the Bulgarian commissioner, Rumiana Jeleva. The one, who was to take the portfolio of humanitarian aid and crisis response, completely failed the passing exam. She was thus unable to clearly justify having properly completed her declaration of interests on her shares in a consultancy company. The amount at stake is ridiculous (a few hundred euros) but it is a “question of principle” for the Parliament. And, above all, she showed poor knowledge of the file, admitting her ignorance of the Congo or Somalia. If the Christian Democrats – her party – support her, Socialists, Liberals and Greens have asked for her dismissal from José-Manuel Barroso.

Presidential hesitations

The President of the Commission hesitates, however. Of course, he does not want to relive the ordeal of five years ago, when "his" Commission had been on the verge of being overthrown by deputies furious at the statements on homosexuals by Italian candidate Enrico Buttiglione (read: Five years ago ! Three failed commissioners). But he doesn't want to give in to what he sees as a cabal. The balance of power is engaged...

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

(article published in Ouest-France, January 2010)

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).