A European Parliament committee has rejected the candidates for the new European Commission put forward by Hungary and Romania for a second time, declaring the two unfit to take office due to conflicts of interest.
Tiemo Woelken, a German member of the European Parliament's Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI), tweeted that the committee had decided on September 30 that Romania's Rovana Plumb and Hungary's Laszlo Trocsanyi were "unfit to become commissioners."
The rejections came just ahead of confirmation hearings for the team picked by incoming commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
The approval by JURI is a new mandatory step before the start of the parliamentary hearings. The full European Parliament is set to vote on October 23 on the entire commission.
French member Manon Aubry told journalists that a 13-7 vote confirmed the committee's decision made on September 26 to reject the two candidates, who "cannot take office because of conflicts of interest."
Trocsanyi, a former justice minister who had been earmarked to take charge of EU enlargement issues, was rejected because of government contracts awarded to his law firm.
Plumb, a former Romanian labor minister proposed by Bucharest for the position of transport commissioner, was faulted over two loans that raised suspicions of corruption.
The decision obliges Hungary and Romania to put forward new candidates.
In a statement, Trocsanyi blasted what he called the "blatant injustice" of his disqualification and vowed to fight it "before the responsible court of justice."
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban nominated diplomat Oliver Varhelyi as Hungary's new candidate, an EU official was quoted as saying.
The European Parliament hearings were expected to also touch on a controversy Von der Leyen created by giving the title of "Protecting our European Way of Life" to the commissioner in charge of migration.
Three commissioners-designate were to appear for hearings on September 30: Slovakia's Maros Sefkovic, to handle interinstitutional relations; Ireland's Phil Hogan, for trade; and Bulgaria's Maria Gabriel, for innovation and youth.
Britain is the only member state without a nominee, as its government is intent on leaving the 28-member bloc on October 31, the day before the new European Commission takes office.