Written by Nicole Zandi, trainee in the Members’ Research Service
The Conference of Presidents of the political groups in the European Parliament has confirmed that additional confirmation hearings will be held in Strasbourg on Monday 20 October. Maroš Šefčovič (Slovakia) and Violeta Bulc (Slovenia) will have concurrent hearings, both starting at 7 pm.
This speedy turn around, with the two only designated these portfolios on Wednesday 15 October, shows that MEPs and Commission President-elect Jean-Claude Juncker alike are keen to stick to the schedule and maintain the parliamentary vote on 22 October, thus allowing the new Commission to take office on 1 November. Juncker is expected to meet the chairs of the parliamentary committees on Tuesday, after the hearings, and before the final vote is due.
As a consequence, the hearings are unlikely to be as much of an event as the original series. Šefčovič, who has already successfully navigated a hearing for the portfolio of Transport and Space, has been moved by Juncker to fill a Vice-President role, responsible for Energy Union. Given Bulc’s limited political experience, with only one month in government, Juncker has reduced the scale of the transport portfolio which was to go to Šefčovič. Responsibility for space is now likely to be added to Elżbieta Bieńkowska’s portfolio – internal market, industry, entrepreneurship and SMEs. In the outgoing Commission, space sits within the enterprise and industry portfolio, which is largely to be taken over by Bieńkowska.
As a further adjustment, said to be to console aggrieved MEPs on the Transport and Tourism Committee, who did not want to see Šefčovič moved, Juncker has added coordination tasks in the transport and space field to the Vice-President’s mandate. Consequently, greater emphasis has been put on sustainable transport and reducing greenhouse gas in Bulc’s mission letter.