Throughout the confirmation hearings, the deal between the two big groupings in parliament continues to hold. They had some close calls, but succeeded in getting their people across the line. Some candidates whom it was expected would face difficulties, managed to come safely through the process. This resulted in part from good homework, connectivity with MEPs and the ‘what if’ factor.
Candidates such as the UK’s Lord Hill (Financial Stability, Financial Services, Capital Markets Union) and France’s Pierre Moscovici (Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation), while in difficulty perhaps were geographically too strategic to get the thumps down. Their success is a reflection of how their nominating countries may have responded should they have been rejected. The Hungarian Tibor Nauracsis (Education, Culture and Citizenship) ran into problems and is set to lose at least the Citizenship element from his job.
The controversial Alenka Bratusek, former Slovenian Prime Minister, ran into serious difficulties in the course of her hearing. Bratusek lost power in this year’s general election. As interim head of government, she added her name to a panel of four Slovenian Commission nominees from which Juncker choose Bratusek, nominating her for the prestigious role of a Vice President for Energy Union. Her performance at the committee was very poor, this resulted in the MEPs refusal to endorse her for the role while also rejecting her as a Commissioner. Last Thursday, she bowed to the inevitable and withdrew her nomination. Slovenian MEP since 2009, Socialist Tanja Fajon, is now tipped to be her country’ss replacement nominee. This will not go down well with ALDE, the Liberal group in parliament, of which Bratusek was a member.
Both the EPP and PES parties have expressed support for Fajon and suggest that they would back her as a direct replacement for Brattusek. But the nomination is now in the hands of the current Slovenian Government whose PM had favoured their outgoing Commissioner to continue for a third term.
The Vice President for Energy Union position is seen as important, as it is to be the supervising VP for the Spaniard Miguel Arias Cañete, whom many in the Parliament hold unsuitable for his role as Climate action and Energy Commissioner. To enable his adoption Juncker had to add Sustainability to the role of Frans Timmermans the Dutch Commissioner and Juncker’s senior VP.
Before ratification by Parliament of the full Commission on the 22nd next, Juncker now has to evaluate his team and make running repairs before his Commission takes office on the 1st November.