Romania withdraws substitute Commissioner pick after pressure tells

Ioan Mircea Pașcu will not join Jean-Claude Juncker's outgoing Commission. [Photo: European Parliament]

Romania has dropped its insistence on having a replacement Commissioner join Jean-Claude Juncker’s outgoing administration for the final two months of its mandate.

After regional policy chief Corina Crețu was elected as an MEP in May, Romania decided to nominate European Parliament Vice-President Ioan Mircea Pașcu as her replacement.

But after Juncker decided not to assign specific jobs to Romania’s new pick and a confirmation hearing at the Parliament was delayed, pressure built and eventually told on Bucharest to withdraw Pașcu’s candidacy.

In a Facebook post on Wednesday morning (11 September), Pașcu revealed that Romania’s EU ambassador, Luminița Odobescu, had been instructed by Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă to nix the process. 

A Parliamentary hearing had been scheduled for today.

Pressure reached a critical level on Tuesday, when Estonia, which also was looking to replace former Commissioner Andrus Ansip, decided to withdraw Kadri Simson’s name from contention. 

Estonia forfeits seat in Juncker's outgoing Commission

Estonia has decided not to retain a European Commissioner for the rest of the current administration’s mandate, instead allowing nominee Kadri Simson to prepare for her duties under President-elect Ursula von der Leyen.

The former economy minister will instead spend the next two months preparing to take on her duties as the EU’s energy chief, after Ursula von der Leyen confirmed her as part of her incoming Commission.

MEPs had made it known that they considered the appointments inappropriate given that the Juncker Commission will shut up shop on 31 October and the hefty financial benefits awarded to Commissioners.

EPP group leader Manfred Weber branded it “an unacceptable waste of taxpayer money” on Tuesday and called on Bucharest to follow Tallinn’s lead. The head of the Parliament’s budget committee, Monica Hohlmeier, also cautioned against confirming new Commissioners.

Romania will now have to wait until 1 November to enjoy Commission representation again, with former EU funds minister Rovana Plumb currently on track to take over the transport portfolio. She will first have to win the blessing of the Parliament though.

Plumb’s nomination raised eyebrows on Tuesday as transport experts pointed out that Romania has some of the worst infrastructure and road safety statistics in Europe. Her personal credentials, however, have been praised.

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[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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