Written by Eva-Maria Poptcheva
French version: Les auditions parlementaires des commissaires désignés – Une étape décisive de l’investiture
German version: Parlamentarische Anhörungen der designierten Kommissionsmitglieder – Ein entscheidender Schritt bei der Amtseinführung
The hearings of the Commissioners-designate before the European Parliament’s committees are a necessary ingredient in informing Parliament’s decision to give its consent to, or reject, the proposed College. Each Commissioner-designate appears before a single hearing, involving one or a few parliamentary committees, after responding to a questionnaire. Due to some national governments’ delay in nominating candidates, this time around Commissioners-designate will have only 10 days to prepare for the hearings.
In past hearings, the main point of criticism was the lack of specialist knowledge of some candidates on their portfolio as well as their vague answers and reluctance to make commitments. Since the 2004 investiture, Parliament has used its role in the appointment of the Commission to press for the replacement of certain controversial candidates, although it can only reject or accept the College as a whole.
Whilst some experts warn of excessive politicisation of the hearings and of the Commission as guardian of the Treaties, others welcome the increased accountability of the Commission to Parliament, and see the deepening political link between the two as a step towards further democratisation of the EU decision-making process.
Hearings have become critical for Parliament’s holding the Commission to account and are set to gain significance as a means for a greater role for Parliament in agendasetting at EU level.