Kroes may face second round of questions

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Dutch members of the European Parliament are calling on Neelie Kroes, the EU’s commissioner-designate for the new ‘Digital Agenda’ portfolio, to face a second round of questioning to rectify what they describe as her weak performance at a confirmation hearing last week.

The second hearing could take place on Tuesday next week (26 January), MEPs said. 

Alternatively Kroes may face a round of questioning at a coordinators’ meeting of the Parliament’s committee on industry, research and energy (ITRE) at this week’s plenary session in Strasbourg. 

Kroes faced MEPs at a hearing on 16 January to test her suitability for the Digital Agenda portfolio, assigned to her by Commission President José Manuel Barroso (EURACTIV 15/01/10). 

After her hearing, the Dutch Christian Democrats (CDA) and Social Democratic Party (PvdA) decided that they wanted to hear the commissioner-designate one more time before coming to a decision. 

The two factions argued that Kroes’ performance at the hearing was too weak. “The real experts in this field believe that she was not prepared,” said Corien Wortman-Kool from the CDA. 

The opposition to Kroes comes as a surprise as the commissioner designate’s last tenure as competition commissioner was generally seen as positive. 

Some members of the ITRE committee are even pushing for a letter to be sent to President Barroso asking him to reconsider Kroes’ designation. 

The letter in question may be sent to Barroso early this week, according to MEPs who attending a recent meeting of the Parliament’s Industry Committee. 

Other sources say the furore surrounding Kroes’ appointment is a storm in a teacup that will die down and that she has become the target of politicking surrounding the Commission hearings in general. 

Bulgarian Commissioner-designate Rumiana Jeleva, who is a member of the centre-right EPP, has come under fire over a disappointing hearing last week and may face eviction from the Commission line-up (EURACTIV 15/01/10) . 

If Jeleva does not make the cut, then MEPs may call for the eviction of a commissioner from one of the other parliamentary groups, the liberal ALDE or Socialist and Democrats (S&D). 

In that scenario, Kroes, who belongs to the ALDE group, would be one of the first to go, MEPs said. 

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