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Romanian and Hungarian candidates for EU Commission blocked over conflicts of interest

Candidates for the European Commission from Hungary and Romania were blocked by the European Parliament’s legal affairs committee due to conflicts of interest, EU officials said on Thursday.

The EU transport commissioner-designate, Romanian socialist politician Rovana Plumb, and the proposed commissioner for EU enlargement, Hungary’s former justice minister Laszlo Trocsanyi, were told confirmation hearings could not go ahead because of inconsistencies in their financial statements.

The move came as a blow for Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who proposed Trocsanyi, and for the Romanian government, which is embroiled in a political crisis and has already faced resistance in Brussels over other candidates.

Hearings of proposed commissioners will take place from next week. The hearings are a pre-condition for formal appointments before the new European Commission can take office in November.

Who are the blocked candidates?

Sergey Lagodinsky, a co-chair of the Committee, said 11 voted in favour of Trocsanyi and 9 blocked his candidacy due to conflicts of interest in connexion with his law firm’s work for the Hungarian government

Trocsanyi was Hungary’s justice minister from 2014 until he was elected as MEP. He founded a law firm named Nagy & Trócsányi and while he suspended his activity in 2007, he still holds shares in the company.

Plumb’s candidacy was rejected by 10 votes, with six votes in favour and two abstentions. According to media reports, concerns were raised about discrepancies between her declaration of assets made at home and in the EU.

What next?

Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva told a news conference that a number of options were possible concerning next steps.

An EU official said that the commission’s president-designate, Ursula von der Leyen, could ask the Hungarian and Romanian governments to select new candidates.

What are the reactions so far?

MEP József Szájer from Hungary’s ruling party Fidesz said the decision was political witch-hunting. He claimed there was a political motivation considering that more problematic candidates, for example, the Polish nominee, didn’t encounter the same obstacles.

Euractiv news website cited Romania’s Conservative MEP Siegfried Mureșan as saying that his country could have been spared this shame if the social-democrat Prime Minister Viorica Dancila had sent a competent, credible and honest candidate.


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