EP committee rejects Hungarian candidate again

The European Parliament’s legal affairs committee on Monday again rejected the Hungarian and Romanian Commissioners-designate, László Trócsányi and Rovana Plumb.
Trócsányi László és Tóth Edina (j2), a FIDESZ-KDNP képviselõi az Európai Parlament (EP) plenáris ülésén Strasbourgban 2019. július 16-án.MTI/Koszticsák Szilárd

The European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs, JURI, on Monday confirmed its rejection of the Hungarian and Romanian candidates for the Commission, László Trócsányi, who lost by 12 votes to nine on rounds of conflict of interest between the position and Trócsányi's former law office activities.

The JURI last Thursday deemed both nominees in breach of the conflict of interest clause. It cited Plumb’s past financial declarations, which revealed discrepancies about private donations, while Trócsányi’s private law firm proved to be the main stumbling block to his approval.

European Parliament President, David Sassoli, therefore asked the committee to reconvene on Monday to define a clear path of action. The procedure in the case demanded that the JURI committee deliver a written statement laying out either a way to clear up the conflict of interest or flat out reject the nominees, but the committee issued no such clear recommendations after its session.

The decision now rests with new Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, under whom Trócsányi was supposed to take the prized Neighbourhood and Enlargement portfolio. The currently most probable outcome is that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán will have to nominate a new candidate for the position.

Although he EP's foreign affairs committee has set another hearing for the evening of 1 October, this could be moot given today's decision. If von der Leyen decides to push on with Trócsányi's appointment process, she risks having the EP reject her entire commission when it votes on the full list on a plenary session later this year.

Orbán has already indicated having several potential candidates, with press reports naming Olivér Várhelyi, head of the Permanent Representation of Hungary to the European Union in Brussels.

According to French MEP Manon Aubry, the chair of JURI, the committee today supplemented the letter it had sent Sassoli last week by adding that the conflict of interest is irreconcilable and the candidates are not fit to serve as commissioners.

Following Monday's decision, Trócsányi made a statement on Twitter, saying the "blatant injustice, the lack of transparency, the clear and deliberate violation of the rules of law and procedure" leave him no choice but to go to court over the decision.

This article is part of the work programme titled "The impacts of EU cohesion policy in Hungary - Present and Future" which is carried out by Net Média Zrt., the publisher of Portfolio.hu, between 1st April 2019 and 31st March 2020 with European Union financing. The views in this article solely reflect the opinions of the author. The European Commission as the funding entity does not take any responsibility for the use of information presented in this article.

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