European parliament committee rejects two commission candidates over conflict of interest concerns
The European Parliament has blocked the nomination of Hungarian and Romanian candidates in the next Commission, due to alleged conflicts of interest.
Romanian Social Democrat Rovana Plumb and Hungary’s Laszlo Trocsanyi were heard by the European Parliament’s “Legal Affairs” Committee, which examines their declaration of interests. However, after this in camera hearing on Thursday, MEPs refused to give them the go-ahead.
“The Legal Affairs Committee gave its approval for the hearings of 24 commissioner candidates. For two candidates, the procedure was suspended when conflicts of interest were identified,” said European Parliament spokesperson Jaume Duch, referring to Plumb and Trocsanyi.
“For the moment, this means that the procedure was suspended, but it does not mean that new commissioner candidates should be proposed,” said the Commission spokesperson, Mina Andreeva.
Rovana Plumb, who was nominated for the Transport portfolio, was questioned about two property loans worth 1 million euros that she failed to declare to the Commission. “I’m as transparent as possible because I have nothing to hide,” she said after the hearing.
Laszlo Trocsanyi, who was nominated by his government for the Enlargement portfolio, was asked about his ties with the law firm he founded in 1991, before becoming Viktor Orban’s Justice Minister. Claiming to have received “no remuneration” for this position since 2007, he denounced what he called “a political decision, devoid of any factual basis”. A spokesman for the Hungarian government said he was being targeted for being a minister “when Hungary closed the borders to migrants”.
The decision is the first stumbling block for the Commission led by the German conservative Ursula von der Leyen, who spoke in the afternoon with the president of the Parliament, David Sassoli.
The Italian pledged to request clarification from the Legal Affairs Committee about its decision and possible recommendations to resolve the impasse, which he will send by letter to Von der Leyen.