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Romanian, Hungarian Candidates For EU Executive Rejected Over Conflicts Of Interest

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Romanian politician Rovana Plumb (file photo)

BRUSSELS -- A European parliamentary committee has rejected the candidates for the EU commission from Hungary and Romania after a grilling over potential conflicts of interest left lawmakers unsatisfied.

A total of 15 members of the European Parliament's legal affairs committee on September 26 voted to reject the candidacy of Romania’s Rovana Plumb for the post of transport commissioner. Six voted in her favor and two abstained.

Plumb was reportedly summoned before the committee to further explain a loan to finance an election campaign.

Eleven lawmakers also voted against Hungary’s Laszlo Trocsanyi, who was proposed by Budapest for the position of neighborhood and enlargement commissioner. Nine voted in his favor with two abstentions.

Sources said Trocsanyi was summoned for details on the law firm he had founded before becoming justice minister in Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government.

Hungarian Justice Minister Laszlo Trocsanyi (file photo)
Hungarian Justice Minister Laszlo Trocsanyi (file photo)

The green light by the legal affairs committee is a new mandatory step before the start of the parliamentary hearings set to begin on September 30, and during which the picks for the European Commission will be quizzed on their qualifications for the job.

The full European Parliament is set to vote on October 23 on the entire commission to be headed by former German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen.

The unexpected rejections of the two candidates appear to have caused disagreements between the Commission and the European Parliament.

Parliament President David Sassoli met with von der Leyen on September 26 to discuss the issue.

"As a next step, we are now expecting a letter from the European Parliament which [explains] the decisions," said von der Leyen’s transition spokesman Jens Flosdorff. "The letter "should also contain the recommendations of the JURI committee for each of the candidates, in line with the EP's rules of procedure," Flossdorf told politico.eu.

European Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva told reporters on September 26 that the committee's decisions "did not necessarily mean that now a new candidate automatically has to be proposed."

"The next steps would depend on how the parliament chooses to proceed, in coordination with von der Leyen," she added.

Manon Aubry, a member of the committee, tweeted, "Options to resolve the conflicts of interest or changes of portfolios are part of the options that were considered (and even voted on) but not chosen.”

However, a parliament spokesperson, quote by politico.eu, said "it's clear" that the parliamentary hearings for Trocsanyi and Plumb, scheduled for October 1 and 2, "cannot take place."

The outgoing commission, led by Jean-Claude Juncker, ends work late in October.

With reporting by politico.eu, Reuters, AP, AFP, RFE/RL's Romanian Service, and g4media.ro
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