Leftist MEP moves to block Katainen appointment

Jyrki Katainen [European People's Party/Flickr]

Barbara Spinelli thinks that the European Parliament should reject Jyrki Katainen as Vice-President of the next Commission, because of his support for austerity  policies.

In a letter to members of Parliament, the Italian legislator asks them to reject the Finnish politician, if “they want to be credible in the eyes of the citizens they represent”.

Katainen has been designated by Commission President-elect Jean-Claude Juncker as the Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment, and Competitiveness.

As set out in the mission letter sent by Juncker, his main responsibilities will be to create jobs, stimulate investment, improve competitiveness and help the EU’s economy recover.

In addition, the mission letter also mentions that Katainen will have to pursue a strong structural reform agenda in order to ensure economic growth.

Spinelli, a member of the European United Left (GUE-NGL), is one of the ex-prime minister’s most vocal critics. “This will drastically restrict workers’ rights and aim at weakening the essential role played by trade unions,” she writes.

Instead, the MEP suggests instituting a financial transaction tax, and a carbon tax, in order to raise required resources for an EU investment plan.

Parliament’s employment committee open to discussion

One of Katainen’s public hearings will take place in the European Parliament’s Employment and Social Affairs Committee. Committee members already addressed some of their concerns to Katainen in a letter sent last Friday (19 September).

In the letter, members ask Katainen how he intends to create jobs and balance economic freedoms with fundamental social rights in Europe.

During a press briefing today (24 September), chair Marita Ulvskog, a Swedish social democrat, said the committee will be interested in hearing about Katainen’s working methods, in order to ensureclose cooperation with Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner-designate for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility.

Regarding Katainen’s reputation of promoting spending cuts, MEP Ulvskog hopes that he will balance his legislative proposals.

  • 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
  • 22-25 September: 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.
  • 8-9 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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