The Brief, powered by EDAA – Will there be more victims?

The Brief is EURACTIV's evening newsletter.

Sometimes the unexpected happens. Two heads from Ursula von der Leyen’s batch of new Commissioners rolled even before the hearings in the European Parliament started.

Romania’s Rovana Plumb was ruled as ineligible on Thursday by the Parliament’s JURI (legal affairs) committee, which went on to give the thumbs-down to Hungarian candidate László Trócsányi barely an hour later.

Though they may have somewhat skewed the roadmap for the handover of executive power, the two rejections – both over alleged conflicts of interest – are quite convenient for several reasons.

Both candidates had failed to provide clarity on their financial and business dealings.

Both come from countries whose ruling parties are, to put it mildly, at odds with their European political families, who didn’t quite know how to rein them in.

Plumb is a social democrat and Trócsányi a conservative from the EPP. With one candidate down on each side, the balance has been restored, the European Parliament has reasserted its role and Emmanuel Macron’s centrist Renew Europe political group can sail on with no dings in its armour.

This, of course, leaves the Greens as the big losers, despite a great performance in May’s elections and huge public appetite for their ideas. They gambled on an all-out assault against von der Leyen and are now set to play the same part they did for the last five years – watching on as others cherry-pick their most palatable policies.

For all we know, the proper parliamentary hearings may not even start next Monday, but going forward, there are two basic options.

The first is that the bloodlust has been satisfied and the other candidates who might have had similar shortcomings can be relatively sure their hearings will be hassle-free.

The second is that the Parliament, having shown its teeth, takes more toll (a few names are already circulating as possible victims). Such a scenario would greatly upset the formation of the next Commission – perhaps the portfolios as we know them would have to be reshuffled  – and delay the transition of power beyond 1 November.

Oh, there is also the option that Ursula von der Leyen just ignores parliamentary rejections and simply proposes the same people over and over again.

But let’s not forget that she was elected only by a paper-thin majority.

Everything is possible.

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The Roundup

Former French president Jacques Chirac, a colossal figure in France’s politics for three decades, has died at the age of 86.

In one of his first interviews since getting the nod to serve another five years in the European Commission, Maroš Šefčovič talks about his new job, industrial policy and the “global mega-trends” the EU should lead heading into the next decade.

Greece’s conservative New Democracy government plans to promote environmental consciousness within the mandatory school curriculum, the Minister of Education and Religious Affairs Niki Kerameus told EURACTIV in a video interview.

And for a good reason too: The Arctic has lost around 12.8% of its surface area every decade between 1979 and 2018. Although “unprecedented for at least 1,000 years”, the shrinking could even increase if no action is taken, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

A number of measures intended to reduce net greenhouse emissions in farming require proper funding and a degree of flexibility, EU agriculture ministers agreed at an informal meeting hosted by the Finnish Council presidency. As always, Gerardo Fortuna has the story.

In another video interview, Chinese Ambassador Zhang Ming discusses the current state of EU-China relations and the future his mission is hoping to forge.

Check out what’s cooking in the digital world in this week’s edition of Samuel Stolton’s Digital Brief.

A quarter of the world’s annual oil consumption passes through the Strait of Hormuz, the site of recent military conflicts between Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United States. How much will Europe be affected if Persian Gulf oil exports are disrupted because of a conflict? Find out in this infographic.

Look out for…

EU-Asia Connectivity Forum in Brussels.

Views are the author’s

[Edited by Georgi Gotev]


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