Schulz says Parliament may reject Hill as UK Commissioner

Martin Schulz. Esterwegen, 2013. [Matthias Groote/Flickr]

The head of the European Parliament said today (16 July) that the “radically anti-European” views of Jonathan Hill, British premier David Cameron’s nominee for the European Commission, might prevent him getting onto the EU’s executive body.

“I cannot imagine Hill, whose views – in as far as he’s got any – are radically anti-European, getting a majority in the European Parliament,” said the legislative body’s president, Martin Schulz, a Social Democrat from Germany.

London’s choice of the Eurosceptic leader of the House of Lords for Britain’s next European Commissioner and of prominent Eurosceptic Philip Hammond as foreign secretary have been met with dismay by some European Union politicians.

Cameron promises to renegotiate Britain’s EU ties and hold an in/out referendum in 2017 if he is re-elected next year. The nominations are a nod to Eurosceptics among his Conservatives and to the growth of the anti-EU UK Independence Party.

Hill would play a major role in Cameron’s plans to reshape Britain’s links to Europe if appointed. But to take office, all 28 member states’ nominees have to undergo confirmation hearings in September and a vote of confidence in October.

Returning as head of the European Parliament after his center-left bloc came second in May’s EU election, Schulz said EU lawmakers were not prejudiced against Hill, “but it remains to be seen whether Mr Hill will be unprejudiced toward us”.

“Whether he gets a majority depends on that,” Schulz told the German radio station Deutschlandfunk.

Cameron bitterly opposed the appointment of Jean-Claude Juncker, the former premier of Luxembourg, as the new president of the European Commission but was defeated by other EU leaders. Juncker’s appointment was approved by lawmakers yesterday (see background).

The ‘Spitzenkandidat’ of the centre-right EPP group Jean-Claude Juncker has been on 15 July to lead the European Commission from 1 November, with a massive vote from MEPs.

>> Read: Parliament elects ‘politically ecumenical’ Juncker as Commission President

In consultation with the President-elect, the Council then adopts the list of the other Members of the Commission. These people are chosen on the basis of suggestions made by the Governments. The Commission is subject, as a body, to a vote of approval of the European Parliament. The College of Commissioners is then formally appointed by the European Council acting by qualified majority.

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