Constitutional affairs − 15-06-2011 - 13:21
Committee: Constitutional Affairs
Parliamentary hearings of prospective Commissioners could be streamlined and the subsequent evaluation of candidates speeded up, argued the EP Constitutional Affairs Committee on Wednesday.
Questions could be grouped by topic, the Commission President asked to explain the proposed allocation of portfolios and the candidates' declarations of financial interest assessed by the Legal Affairs Committee, say MEPs.
The public hearings of Commissioners by MEPs are held to ensure that members of the new Commission meet the criteria laid down by the EU treaties. Rapporteur Andrew Duff (ALDE, UK) stressed that the last hearings "ensured that the entire Commission-designate was assessed in an open, fair and consistent manner" but that "further modifications are both necessary and desirable" to improve the process.
Commission president to explain portfolios
One of the main changes MEPs propose is to enable Parliament's President to invite the President-elect of the Commission to speak to MEPs about the allocation of portfolios in the new Commission. Meanwhile, financial declarations by Commissioners would be sent for scrutiny to the Legal Affairs Committee.
Leaner, more efficient hearings
Each hearing should be scheduled to last three hours, MEPs say, and the opening statements by each Commissioner-designate cut from 20 to 15 minutes. Questions should be grouped by topic to avoid repetition.
Before the hearings, there should be two common written questions for each Commissioner-designate, the first on issues of general competence, European commitment and personal independence, and the second on management of the portfolio and cooperation with Parliament. There would then be three other questions specific to that Commissioner.
The chairs and the coordinators of the political groups in the committees should meet "without delay" after the hearing to evaluate the candidate. The committee's evaluation should be made public within 24 hours. There should be a single evaluation statement for each candidate, MEPs say, including the opinions of all the committees associated with the hearing.
MEPs also want live audio-visual transmission of each hearing, with a public recording available within 24 hours.
The hearings - although not laid down in the EU treaties - are a formal process developed under the last two Commissions to allow Parliament to exercise its treaty-based right to vote on any new Commission College. Commissioners must prove their general competence, personal independence and European commitment, as established in the treaties. MEPs also assess any relevant information, including the financial information.
Mr Duff's report is expected to be put to the vote at the July plenary in Strasbourg. If adopted, the changes will then be written into Parliament's internal rules.
On the Chair: Carlo CASINI (EPP, IT)
REF. : 20110614IPR21338