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Day 3: Commission hearings

21h45

Thanks for joining us for a long but dramatic Day 3 of the Commission hearings. Back tomorrow!

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21h30 GUE/NGL MEPs VOTED AGAINST SYLVIE GOULARD

Having led Left MEPs’ interrogation of the French nominee Sylvie Goulard today, our Czech MEP Kateřina Konečná gives four reasons why we rejected Goulard’s candidacy, and why a repeat hearing won’t be needed.

“Goulard is completely unacceptable as Commissioner-designate. The main reason for this is that she showed complete incompetence during the hearing and was unable to answer almost any question in detail.”

 

 

 

 

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20h55

Portugal’s José Gusmão demands to know from Elisa Ferreira what reforms she proposes on Cohesion:

“Is that good old fashion market deregulation, privatisation, cut backs to public services? Or are we talking about something else entirely?”

“But more important than that is if you truly understand what responsible public policies are, it is the Commission which has carried out policies that have given Portugal its biggest ever recession. Reforms must not be imposed!”

“Will the Commission-designate make a commitment and refuse to use the payout of the Cohesion Fund as means to exchange for fulfilling the Commission’s terms?”

 

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20h50

Manon Aubry‘s last intervention of the day concerns EU arms exports which completely contradicts the bloc’s ‘policy’ on human rights, telling Slovenian Commission-designate Janez Lenarčič:

“There are rules on technological and military exports in the EU which were adopted in 2008 that includes humane rights in their criteria. How will the Commission-designate coordinate humanitarian aid from the EU in applying those provisions?”

“The EU recognises the responsibilities that member states have in exporting arms to these states and the impact that they have in places with humanitarian crises.”

 

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19h33

Over at the Elisa Ferreira hearing with the Regional Development committee, Martina Michels is alarmed by the lack of criticisms from the Portuguese nominee on the proposals from the outgoing Commission that places restrictions on innovation and digital support, as well as climate protection.

 

 

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19h30

The evening session kicks off and Spanish MEP Miguel Urbán wastes no time in demanding answers on why humanitarian aid has been excluded from the Slovenian nominee’s portfolio – much to the disappointment of NGOs – plus also how humanitarian law will be upheld given the EU’s obsession with international trade and migration pacts with dubious countries.

“This Parliament speaks out on violations but without measures being adopted. What about Saudi Arabia and Yemen, for example? Is there an arms embargo? No, there isn’t!”

 

 

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18h30

Ahead of tonight’s Commission hearings, what we expect from the Slovenian and Portuguese nominees:

 

 

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16h47

An industrial strategy for the EU is very much on the agenda for Manuel Bompard in his questioning of Sylvie Goulard.

He says that the EU badly needs an industrial policy and to help with ecological transition to tackle climate change.

“Millions of jobs have been lost in industries, and beyond the Commissioner-designate’s written response, what are the real EU aims for an industrail strategy? Do you think we should have a broader tax for industrial and ecological issues?”

“And what about state aid to maintain our independence strategic assets?”

 

 

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16h43

Spain’s Eugenia Rodríguez Palop took to the floor and challenged Helena Dalli on a number of topics, including pensions for migrant workers.

For example, she wanted the new Commission to adopt measures that will improve and protect sectors that are dominated by women but with lots of insecurity, such as hotel cleaning staff.

Furthermore, lots of domestic workers are migrant women and are open to labour exploitation – people smuggling and trafficking. She asked what Dalli will do to make these migrant womens’ status safe and less vulnerable to traffickers? What happens to their salaries and pensions at a time when public pensions are giving way to private ones?

She wanted to know Dalli’s view on pan-EU pension product and what impact will this have on the gender pay gap that already exists.

 

 

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16h17

Assessment of Helena Dalli’s performance so far by Azadeh Jafari, GUE/NGL staff coordinator on the FEMM committee:

“Her answer on on her ambitions to unblock the Istanbul Convention was ok but she offered nothing concrete. The Convention remains blocked.

“She hasn’t promised a comprehensive EU directive against Violence Against Women, however. – instead, she only referred to the Victims’ rights directive by “making it stronger”.

On sexual and reproductive health rights, she said she is a supporter. However, she also mentioned at one point that she will have to work with the Croatian nominee, Dubravka Šuica on the ‘Democracy & Demography’ portfolio. However, Šuica is well known for her stance against safe and legal abortions.

Finally, on the point that Portuguese MEP Sandra Pereira raised, Dalli offered no real answer on how to implement the Barcelona objectives on childcare as a tool for promoting women’s access to the labour market.

 

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15h42

Over at the Equality portfolio hearing with Helena Dalli, Portugal’s Sandra Pereira concentrated on two themes: sexual and reproductive health rights and childcare provisions for helping women and families to be able to work.

She said: “In the absence of family networks that can step in with childcare help, one of the parents has to stay home to look after the young. It’s an obstacle to women’s empowerment.”

 

In addition,  more needs to be done on an EU level to provide guarantees and equalities when it comes to women and sexual and reproductive health treatments. That includes health check-ups, screenings and that young women, female migrants and other vulnerable groups can all have full access to universal treatment.

 

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15h30

“Thank you for noting my energy”, an arrogant Sylvie Goulard responded to Kateřina Konečná‘s sarcastic chiding of the French nominee’s ability to be hold down two jobs simultaneously as both an MEP and a €10 000-a-month consultant.

She also forgot to answer Konečná’s on EU tourism which is suffering tremendous financial losses and the Thomas Cook collapse has shaken consumer trust in the industry:

“You wrote and spoke about nothing on tourism even thought its impact is huge in the internal market.”

And on the implementation of the defence fund, Konečná wanted Goulard to tell her about the clarification process:

“Which control rights mechanisms will you grant the European Parliament when concerning the European Defence Fund??

 

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15h25

One nominee is getting rounds of applause in her hearing….whilst the other is getting pelted with questions about her financial past and ethical behaviour from MEPs. You can probably guess which is which….

But is either Helena Dalli (Malta, Equality brief) and Sylvie Goulard fit for MEPs on the Left? Here are our demands:

 

 

 

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12h10

Media freedom is high on Cornelia Ernst‘s mind and as the nominee in charge of justice, this is a topic that should be high on his agenda.

This has been given extra urgency given that Reynders faced protests from Belgian journalists after he proposed to introduce a law that would gag classified information from being leaks and prosecute the journalists who reveal the information.

Did he answer the question from Ernst…. not really.

“Of course we want to support whistleblowers with extra measures and legal, financial and psychological support…but we will see if member states want to go further.”

 

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11h05

Also not impressed by Reynders’s response on justice for victims of human rights violations: Belgian MEP Marc Botenga:

 

As well as his overall attitude….
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10h57

“Ce n’est pas en mon nom que je m’adresse à vous mais des milliers de victimes de violations des droits de l’homme commises par les entreprises. Allez-vous mettre en oeuvre un devoir de vigilance européen pour les multinationales?”Manon Aubry to Didier Reynders.

 

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10h50

New room of interrogation in the Parliament but the same old non-answers from Didier Reynders.

Manon Aubry, GUE/NGL co-president, tackled Reynders on the issue of impunity for human rights violations by multinationals but was told by the ouotgoing Belgian Deputy PM that “we’ll see how the feelings are” and “we’ll look at the proposals tomorrow” and “what steps can be taken” in moving forward to make due diligence binding.

Aubry wants to ensure that victims are justly compensated and have access to justice. She accused Reynders as federal minister of allowing Belgian companies to escape punishments and be above the law.

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10h10

 

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09h49

As the lights go out in the room and the hearing is suspended, Belgian MEP Marc Botenga knows who won’t be left in the dark at the end of all these….

 

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09h30

As Justice nominee Reynders gave vague non-answers in writing to MEP questions, we demand answers today.

Both on ethical problems & investigations into allegations of bribery surrounding the candidate, but also on his dodgy history of policy choices.

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09h10

Two days gone…four to go.

And if you are only going to follow for one day, today is the day – headlined by two controversial picks from Ursula von der Leyen: Belgium’s Didier Reynders & France’s (and Macron-ally) Sylvie Goulard. Both of them have controversies hanging over them. There should have been ‘three-to-watch’ today, of course, but the Romanian candidate Rovana Plumb was withdrawn late last week due to…conflicts of interest!

Follow our coverage today and the questions our MEPs will ask in all the hearings.

You can also relive our blog from days one and two.

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