EP public hearings of commissioners-candidate: format, schedule

The candidate commissioners as presented by incoming Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, will be scrutinised by the European Parliament committees from 29 September to 7 October. Members will evaluate candidates’ suitability before the full house votes on the proposed Commission. The leaders of the political groups have agreed on Thursday on the format and programme for the public hearings.

The hearings will take place from 29 September through 2 October and in the following week, on the afternoon of Monday 6 and the morning of Tuesday 7 October. The Conference of Presidents, i.e. the leaders of EP political groups, approved on Thursday the exact schedule for the hearings, i.e. when which commissioner will appear before which committee(s).

Hearings of commissioners-designate with responsibilities falling within the remit of two or more committees will be organised by multiple committees. For candidates who fail their exam(s) before the committees or have their portfolio(s) changed, additional hearings may be held.

The hearing of the First Vice-President designate Frans Timmermans will have a different format. He will appear before a Conference of Presidents open to all MEPs in view of his horizontal responsibilities.

The European Parliament is set to vote on whether or not to approve the full Commission on 22 October. This would allow the new Commission to start work on 1 November. Incoming Commission President Juncker was already approved in a vote on 15 July.

Parliamentary committees today sent written questions to the candidates, which will need to be answered in writing by 26 September. There are general questions common to all on competence, portfolio and cooperation with Parliament, and three from the relevant committee. Where more committees are involved in hearings, they may also submit two additional written questions.

The hearings will last three hours and will be broadcast and webstreamed live.

The commissioners-designate may make an opening statement, after which MEPs will pose questions. Each committee will then draw up an evaluation in camera, to be sent to the President of Parliament. The timetable is:

18 September: Questionnaires sent in English to the Commission (other languages will follow), with deadline to reply in English by 26 September at noon, and in other languages by 29 September morning

Week 39 (22-25 Sept.): Committee on Legal Affairs meets to discuss declarations of financial interest of candidates

29 September to 7 October: Hearings of Commissioners-designate and committee evaluation meetings; no hearings on Friday 3 October 2014 and on Monday 6 October 2014 in the morning

7 October: Extraordinary meeting of the Conference of Committee Chairs to evaluate the outcome of the hearings.

8 to 9 October: The Groups will meet on Wednesday 8 October in the afternoon and on Thursday 9 October in the morning in order to evaluate the hearings.

9 October: The Conference of Presidents meets to declare the hearings closed and finalise the evaluation

22 October: Vote in Plenary

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