The Commissioner hearings began in earnest last week. It was a new format and each Commissioner designate was grilled by MEPs about their intentions for their respective portfolios before being ratified. It is the first time such hearings have taken place in this way and MEPs really did have the opportunity to tackle the Commissioner designates’ about their plans, test their depth of knowledge and commitment to the role.
I blogged about two of the hearings, that of Vera Jourovà who will have responsibility for justice, consumers and gender equality and Kristalina Georgieva, Vice-President for Budget and Human Resources, both of which I saw last week. You can read my reviews here and here.
In total five of the Commissioner designates, have been told to provide further written evidence before any decision is made about their confirmation. Vera Jourovà from the Czech Republic, Tibor Navracsics from Hungary, Miguel Arias Cañete from Spain and Pierre Moscovici from France, were given until Sunday night to respond to new written questions.
In addition, the UK’s Jonathan Hill will appear tomorrow 7 October at 1pm for a second hearing. European Voice has excellent coverage of the hearings which you can read here.
Last week the Conservatives set out new rules which threatened to take the UK out of the European Human Rights Convention. The plans, outlined in an eight page dossier are largely ‘fanciful’, as the Guardian put it, because the UK can’t be granted special treatment.
Essentially people in Britain would lose the right to take the British government to the human rights court in Strasbourg. Rather than enforcing any adverse rulings from the Court, the Tories want them to be merely advisory and they would only become binding if Parliament agreed it on a case-by-case basis.
Joshua Rozenberg grasped the significance this would have and wrote in the Guardian last week: “Nobody at the human rights court or the Council of Europe can grant the ‘recognition’ that the Conservatives seek.”
He added: “they [the Conservative plans] would take the UK back half a century to the days before the convention became enforceable by individuals.”