Members of the Committee of Legal Affairs (JURI) rejected, for a second time, on Monday 30 September, the Commissioner-candidates proposed by Romania and Hungary.
They voted 13 against 7 for turning down the candidature of Romanian Rovana Plumb, considered “incapable to carry out her functions” as Commissioner for transport and they gave a similar verdict to Hungarian László Trócsányi, with 12 votes against 9.
The former was criticized because of a dubious loan, the latter for keeping too close connections with the law firm that he had created and was an associate of, a firm that he says he had quit years before.
It was last week that the candidatures of Mrs Plumb and Mr Trócsányi were rejected for the first time by the JURI committee. That decision triggered a suspension of their nomination procedure. However, the MEP’s demands, expressed in a letter sent to David Sassoli, the president of the European Parliament last Thursday, were not specific enough, as the European regulations would have required. The president of the Commission asked Bucharest and Budapest to propose alternative candidates by Monday evening.
Trócsányi: The decision is a collection of lies
“It is with great consternation that I learned yesterday afternoon’s decision of the Committee of Legal Affairs of the European Parliament. The flagrant injustice, the lack of transparency, the clear and deliberate violation of the legal rules, and the procedure, along with the failure to respect the basic democratic principles call back to my memory an era that I thought we had left behind. It is not only the lawyer and the thinker who is affected by this decision, but the individual person as well. The decision is, in fact, a collection of lies, rushed conclusions, and biased conflations. As for the offended lawyer, he has no other choice but to consider proving his rights before the competent legal authority.”
Fidesz: Mr Trócsányi is the victim of an international political revenge attack
The Hungarian government did not waste any words on the actual problems with Mr Trócsányi’s candidature in their reactions. Instead, they explained the vote as an international political attack via every media channel available to them in Hungary. “The pro-immigration parties in the European Parliament cannot tolerate the idea that the new, European Commission would include a member who served as the minister of Justice at the time when Hungary closed the border to immigrants” – the government’s official press release read.
Tamás Deutsch, one of the most popular Hungarian Members of the European Parliament and one of Viktor Orbán oldest political allies described the situation in a spirited speech at the Fidesz’ party conference on Sunday. “Let’s put it straight and clear: the pro-migration forces took their revenge because László Trócsányi is the Hungarian Salvini” – Mr Deutsch said. – “This is the Hungarian Commissioner-candidate’s biggest crime in the eyes of the pro-migrationists, and this is one of the biggest reasons why we look at him with respect and appreciation.”
In his interpretation, just as the Italian minister of the interior stopped the immigration with the physical protection of the maritime borders, the Hungarian justice minister did the same thing by elaborating the tools of legal border protection.
You can watch the parliamentary hearings of the Commissioner-candidates online here.
Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament
Annex VII Para 2.3c of the regulation
Article 2 : Examination of declaration of financial interests
1. The committee responsible for legal affairs shall examine the declarations of financial interests and assess whether the content of the declaration made by a commissioner-designate is accurate and complete and whether it is possible to infer a conflict of interests.
2. The confirmation by the committee responsible for legal affairs of the absence of any conflict of interests is an essential precondition for the holding of the hearing by the committee responsible for the subject matter. In the absence of such confirmation, the procedure for appointing the Commissioner-designate shall be suspended while the procedure laid down in paragraph 3(c) is followed.
3. The following guidelines shall be applied when the declarations of financial interests are scrutinised by the committee responsible for legal affairs:
(a) if, when scrutinising a declaration of financial interests, the committee responsible for legal affairs deems, on the basis of the documents presented, the declaration to be accurate, complete and to contain nothing indicating an actual or potential conflict of interests in connection with the portfolio of the Commissioner-designate, its Chair shall send a letter confirming this finding to the committees responsible for the hearing or to the committees involved in the event of a procedure taking place during a Commissioner’s term of office;
(b) if the committee responsible for legal affairs considers that the declaration of interests of a Commissioner-designate contains information which is incomplete or contradictory, or that there is a need for further information, it shall, pursuant to the Framework Agreement on relations between the European Parliament and the European Commission, request the Commissioner-designate to provide supplementary information without undue delay and shall consider and properly analyse it before making its decision; the committee responsible for legal affairs may decide, where appropriate, to invite the Commissioner-designate to a discussion;
(c) if the committee responsible for legal affairs identifies a conflict of interests based on the declaration of financial interests or the supplementary information supplied by the Commissioner-designate, it shall draw up recommendations aimed at resolving the conflict of interests; the recommendations may include renouncing the financial interests in question or changes to the portfolio of the Commissioner-designate by the President of the Commission; in more serious cases, if no solution is found to the conflict of interests, and as a last resort, the committee responsible for legal affairs may conclude that the Commissioner-designate is unable to exercise his or her functions in accordance with the Treaties and the Code of Conduct; the President of Parliament shall then ask the President of the Commission what further steps the latter intends to take. }