Our previous Monthly Report of August-September stated that there was still a long road to confirm the new college of Commissioners. As it turns out, the new College of Commissioners will not start its five-year term at the beginning of November 2019 as foreseen.
From 30 September to 8 October, the hearings of all the 27 Commissioners-designate took place. Subsequently, the new Commission proposed by President-elect Ursula von der Leyen has to be supported by a majority in the European Parliament. The Parliament is only able to support the proposed Commission as a whole, meaning that it cannot reject a single Commissioner. Following the past hearings, the Parliament voted in a plenary session to reject the new College of Commissioners as a consequence of the rejection of the Romanian, Hungarian and French Commissioners-designate.
First, Romania’s socialist Rovana Plumb who was designated as Commissioner for Transport and then Hungary’s conservative László Trócsányi (EPP) who was about to lead the Neighbourhood and Enlargement portfolio were both rejected based on conflict of interests.
Besides their rejection, the von der Leyen Commission cannot start on the 1st of November due to the overwhelming rejection by the MEPs of the French Commissioner-designate for the EU's Internal Market, Industrial Policy and Defence, Sylvie Goulard, who is a current MEP. One of the reasons to reject Goulard was an ongoing case concerning a fictional jobs scandal.
As a consequence, the countries in question had to propose new candidates in order to replace the rejected ones. The new candidates are Viorica Dăncilă (Romania’s Prime Minister), Oliver Varhelyi (Hungarian Ambassador to the EU) and Thierry Breton (French businessman).
Even though the three new candidates are approved by von der Leyen herself, they still need to pass the difficult test in the EP in order t get the new commission started, hopefully in the beginning of December. In the meantime, the outgoing Juncker Commission remains in force.