Juncker’s Commission still being formed

Labour Party

Jean Claude Juncker, the incoming President of the European Commission, is to meet with the new Slovenian commissioner candidate, Violeta Bulc. As long as she proves herself appointable, Ms Bluc will replace the previous Slovenian nominee Alenka Bratusek.

Bratusek, the former Prime Minister of Slovenia, nominated herself to the position after she lost the country’s general election, but was rejected after failing to impress MEPs at her hearing last week.

The EU Observer claimed that Bluc’s candidacy is also not without controversy. The paper reports: “The new prime minister, Miro Cerar, pushed her name through even though seven members of his cabinet were against and only six in favour. But with three ministers abroad and unable to vote, rules of procedure allow unexpressed votes to be counted as positive.”

It has not emerged which portfolio Juncker would offer the new commissioner designate but there is criticism in Ljubljana that she also lacks experience in the political arena.

Last week I wrote for the New Statesman about the Commissioner hearings and also why I feel Jonathan Hill is well placed to represent the UK as commissioner designate. You can read my piece here.

Honeyball’s Weekly Round-up

Labour Party

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.”

You can read Rozenberg’s article in full here.