Yesterday afternoon it was the Bulgarian’s turn for the Committee grilling. Still in its infancy, the process is throwing up the odd surprise, notably the recall of Lord Jonathan Hill for a second round of questions. Since hearings have only been conducted once before, neither Commissioners-Designate nor MEPs have quite got the hang of how to do them. While the system introduced by the Lisbon Treaty is good in that it provides the democratic legitimacy offered by the European Parliament, the nuts and bolts still need a bit of refining.
Having said that, Mme Georgieva’s hearing was a delight. She served as a Commissioner during the past five years, and it was clear that she knew her way around, even though her previous brief for international co-operation, humanitarian aid and crisis response was some way away from her proposed job as Vice-President overseeing the budget and human resources. However, as an economist she will, I’m sure, be well able to carry out the more complex parts of her 2014 – 2019 role.
Mms Georgieva gave us three criteria by which she would conduct her work:
- What is being achieved with the money
- Are the controls strong enough to prevent fraud and abuse
- Is everything being done to ensure that the staff excel in their work and maintain high standards
Mme Georgieva further stressed three very important issues which she intends to keep in the forefront of her approach:
– Jobs and growth must be the main driver
– The need to be vigilant in stamping out fraud and abuse
– Close attention to gender equality and diversity
I was fortunate to ask the Commissioner-Designate a question, as follows:
Our policies and programmes have to deliver to all our citizens – and need to reach those who have traditionally been excluded from being active in the economy. So, what can be done at all levels – from the Commission, through to national and regional authorities – to ensure that we have the best personnel possible managing EU funds with those ends in mind? People who are able to maximise inclusion and women and others and deliver genuine added value and sustainable benefit of every euro spent in our programmes? The recent staff regulation revision covering EU staff had numerous aims – including performance. How will you oversee the continuing implementation of that regulation so that inclusion goals become part of the performance expectations, especially in a situation where we face financial constraints and staff cuts? We now have great potential with the 300 billion euro growth initiative. How will you ensure that we have the right quality and number of staff to make sure that women and minorities benefit from the boost it can offer in terms of long term positive results?
Mme Georgieva’s reply was perfectly acceptable and in line with her views as stated earlier.
Following the hearing the Chairs committees involved – Budget, Budgetary Control and Legal Affairs – met to discuss the hearing, and then discussed their views with all the committee Co-ordinators. Unlike last time, the process was much more open and allowed full discussion.
The final outcome was that Kristalina Georgieva was capable enough to be recommended for confirmation in her post.