Ursula von der Leyen green-lights Hungary's commissioner nominee replacement

After a job interview late on Monday, European Comission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen (UVL) has formally nominated Hungary's Olivér Várhelyi as member of the next European Commission, along with France's Thierry Breton, UVL's staff notified Hungarian newspaper Népszava on Tuesday.
Varhelyi Oliver Orban Viktor unios biztos Ursula von der Leyen

Hungary's first-choice candidate, the country's former Justice Minister László Trócsányi was rejected on grounds of conflict of interest between the position and Trócsányi's former law office activities. 

Trócsányi was supposed to take the prized Neighbourhood and Enlargement portfolio

Várhelyi will now face the European Parliament's confirmation process, which includes an examination of their financial affairs by the Legal Affairs Committee and at least one confirmation hearing from a specialist committee. 

Although Várhelyi is expected to be earmarked to take responsibility for EU enlargement and relations with the bloc's neighbors, the paper said it is not a done deal yet. According to sources close to UVL, the remaining posts will be distributed only when Romania finds a new prospective candidate, after the rejection of ex-minister Rovana Plumb over her past financial declarations, which revealed discrepancies about private donations. 

Von der Leyen and her team are urging all the key political players in Romania to put forward a new candidate swiftly.

The "Romanian government was asked again (with the Romanian President in copy) to nominate a candidate as soon as possible," Politico cited the transition team spokesperson as saying.

The spokesperson specified the nominee should not be someone from "an earlier selection process nor rejected by the Parliament."

Várhelyi is Hungary's current ambassador to the EU. Diplomats as well as current and former Hungarian officials described Várhelyi, a career diplomat and former Commission official, as highly intelligent and extremely knowledgeable on EU issues. But multiple former Hungarian officials also describe an abrasive leadership style that has included screaming, yelling and swearing at staffers. Várhelyi has declined to comment on those allegations.

Cover photo by Thierry Monasse/Getty Images

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.

More in EU funds