New commissioners’ hearings
Sabine Lösing – Reaction to hearing of HR/VP Federica Mogherini
Luke “Ming” Flanagan reflects on Hearing of Commissioner-designate Phil Hogan
Liadh Ní Riada reflects on Hearing of Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva
Josu Juaristi reflects on Hearing of Commissioner-designate Corina Creţu
Lidia Senra reflects on Hearing of Commissioner-designate Phil Hogan
Cypriot MEP Neoklis Sylikiotis (AKEL):
Research must serve needs of society
Speaking at the hearing of Commissioner-designate for Research and Innovation, Mr. K. Moedas, GUE/NGL MEP Neoklis Sylikiotis said: “Today the EU direction on research aims to bridge the gap between science and the market. Within this framework the adoption of incentives for increasing private investments in research is promoted, ensuring the greatest possible profit for multinational companies without society’s needs being served.”
He asked Mr. Moedas if he is concerned about the weakening of research to the remaining research fields.
Sylikiotis recalled that Mr. Junker pledged that his Commission would reset Europe on a growth trajectory and people will return to work. He asked Mr Moedas if he considers that the goals of Research should be redefined with a focus on resolving the problems of society, the creation of jobs, the support of public higher education and promoting its development with social character. Furthermore, he asked how the Commission will invest in Research and Innovation when cutbacks have been already proposed for the European budget of 2015 regarding research and in particular the programme Horizon 2020. He also asked what Mr Moedas was willing to do as a new Commissioner in order to ensure that the funds for research will increase.
Concluding, Mr. Sylikiotis asked Mr. Moedas if the Commission would assist the member states to have a starring role in order to ensure that Research will be done in the public interest.
Mr. Moedas, answering the questions of Mr. Sylikiotis, argued that the cutbacks of the funds given for Research, is a severe problem and requested the aid of European Parliament to help increase them. Unfortunately, regarding the issue of public investments Mr. Moedas has not clarified his position saying that public investments can be tapped where there is no sufficient private investments. Moreover he avoided commenting on the need to redefine the goals of Research with a focus on resolving societal problems as well asthe weakening of research in particular research fields.
Cypriot MEP Neoklis Sylikiotis (AKEL):
Assist memorandum countries to support SMEs
SMEs in member states such as Cyprus, which are under a memorandum regime, are one step away from bankruptcy. You should assist the states which are plagued by the economic crisis and the austerity measures by supporting their small and medium enterprises.
Speaking at the hearing of Commissioner -designate for Internal Market, Industry and Small and Medium Enterprises, Ms. A. Bienkovska, Sylikiotis asked her what measures she would promote for supporting the industry and creating new jobs especially in countries plagued by the economic crisis, but also more widely in the South, which is in the process of deindustrialisation.
Sylikiotis recalled that SMEs are the backbone of our economy. So he asked Ms. Bienkovska how she will enhance SMEs when the already decreased funding which is given for supporting these enterprises, in the EU budget of 2015 will take further cutbacks. He furthermore asked what specifically the new Commissioner will do in order to simplify the procedures of SMEs’ access to funding, and what measures she will promote to lessen the impacts of the dominant positions which the major multinational companies have in the market.
In his conclusion Mr. Sylikiotis referred to the aim of European Union of stimulating competitiveness and asked Ms. Bienkovska if she will end what it is hitherto applicable, wherein under the pretext of the need of reducing the production costs, a policy of reducing wages and diminishing labor rights, is followed.
Unfortunately, Ms. Bienkovska merely answered in very general manner to Mr. Sylikiotis’ questions saying that by her undertaking of the Commissioner’s duties she will present a road map for supporting SMEs. To the question regarding the need of supporting small and medium enterprises of member states which are under memorandum regime and to the question regarding the necessity of terminating policies of reducing wages, Ms. Bienkovska avoided making any comment. it was disappointing to hear her reply regarding the problems which SMEs are facing in accessing funding, where she only introduced as a solution the necessity of better information. She assured that all the applicable rules, which are currently caused problems to SMEs, will be simplified.
Marie-Christine Vergiat on Hearing of Commissioner-designate Jourova
Paloma López on Hearing of Commissioner-designate Miguel Arias Cañete
Fabio de Masi on Hearing of Commissioner-designate Jonathan Hill
Culture, education, youth and citizenship cannot be defended by a Commissioner from the Orban government
GUE/NGL MEPs were less than impressed with former Hungarian Minister Tibor Navracsics’ hearing performance in Parliament’s culture and education (CULT) committee last night and strongly oppose his appointment to the position.
Italian GUE/NGL MEP Curzio Maltese said: “Having previously held the positions of both Justice Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister in Orban’s government, Navracsics was politically responsible for the implementation of restrictive reforms which concentrated more and more powers into the hands of one party and one man, most notably the media reform and the reform of the Hungarian justice system.”
Despite his attempts to distance himself from Orban’s policies, it is hard to see how Navracsics could defend freedom of expression and a fair distribution of European funds to NGOs when since September his party has been tightening its aggressive policy against NGOs in Hungary. Navracsics claimed this evening in his hearing that Hungary has a “flourishing civil society sector” and that there was “no problem” where NGOs are concerned.
Irish GUE/NGL MEP Liadh Ní Riada commented on the importance of safeguarding European culture: “What we stand to lose is beyond comprehension in terms of the arts, literature, music song and dance, there is no point in lamenting the loss of such rich and diverse cultures after the event, the time is now to safeguard and nurture our culture, to do so is to further ourselves.”
She also highlighted the importance of linguistic diversity in the EU, underlying the need to protect the Irish language’s position as an official EU language: “Our language identifies us, our nationality and our culture and indeed stated by the EU as an important priority. Irish is the first official language of Ireland and to not have the right to have full interpretation in the European Parliament flies in the face of the prioritisation of languages.”
GUE/NGL blocks financial lobbyist Hill
After an unsatisfying performance at the 3-hour hearing of EU Commissioner-designate Jonathan Hill, GUE/NGL MEPs asked for a vote on his designation.
“This is a small success for our group,” said German GUE/NGL MEP Fabio De Masi. “Our request for a vote put others under pressure; as a result they made a proposal to hold an extraordinary second hearing with Hill.”
Portuguese GUE/NGL MEP Marisa Matias said: “We’ve put Hill in detention. His answers were blurry, on the question of Eurobonds he did not even have a vague position.”
The MEPs outlined that they see the other groups’ proposal to hold a second hearing as a strategic move to give them time to reconsider Hill’s mission statement.
The GUE/NGL position is however crystal clear: there are already far too many financial lobbyists in Brussels and the city of London does not deserve its own EU Commissioner.
Basque MEP Josu Juaristi – Reaction to Hearing of Commissioner Corina Cretu
Following the hearing of Corina Creţu, Commissioner-designate for Regional Policy, GUE/NGL MEPs have expressed their confidence in Creţu given she committed to defending underdeveloped regions.
Creţu firmly committed to defend and work primarily for the least developed and outermost regions. GUE/NGL MEPs felt this position was consistent with their vision of cohesion policy, which remains primarily one of political solidarity. They know that the real work however lies ahead and have all expressed a willingness to work on issues with the future Commissioner.
French MEP Younous Omarjee, REGI committee Vice President, pressed Creţu on how she would deal with the fact that she will take up her functions in a context of near insolvency, i.e. 23 billion euros of debt. He said: “We need vigilance on the renegotiation of the multiannual financial framework (MFF) to ensure that cohesion funds are safeguarded. Corina Creţu explained that regional policy was the only policy area with concrete results for citizens and expressed her commitment to solve this budgetary problem together with the whole Commission. I appreciated her willingness to favour the least-developed regions of the EU.”
GUE/NGL MEPs Martina Michels and Angela Vallina asked the Romanian Commissioner-designate about the sensitive issue of macro-economic conditionality, a mechanism that could lead the EU to block structural fund payments where a member state was in excessive deficit. Corina Creţu committed to using this mechanism only as a last resort and only after a structured dialogue with the European Parliament. “However, she failed to respond to the question how to guarantee full involvement of the regions in possible reshaping of EU funding programs in such situations”, Martina Michels regretted.
Younous Omarjee also addressed the issue of the outermost regions, asking the Commissioner-designate what action she would take to make sure these regions are better taken into account in all EU policies. In her response, Creţu praised MEP Omarjee’s recent report on the outermost regions, noting that she recognised the specific challenges these regions face and that particular attention should be given to the provisions to help those territories. She also said she would travel straight to the outermost regions to observe their needs and would address the issue with Jean-Claude Juncker.
She also expressed her willingness to support cross-border cooperation in response to a question from Basque GUE/NGL MEP Josu Juaristi, where he cited the situations in the Basque Country and the North of Ireland as good examples of practical cross-border cooperation in action.
German MEP Stefan Eck – Reaction to Hearing of Commissioner Karmenu Vella
MEPs Cornelia Ernst and Barbara Spinelli react to Hearing of Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos.
MEP Tania Gonzalez Peñas reacts to Hearing of Commissioner Maroš Šefčovič.
MEPs appeal to colleagues across all political groups to reject nomination of Tibor Navracsics to the post of Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Citizenship.
Download the letter signed by GUE/NGL MEPs Barbara Spinelli, Marie-Christine Vergiat, Gabi Zimmer, Cornelia Ernst, Marina Albiol Guzman, Eleonora Forenza, Martina Michels, Sabine Lösing, Malin Björk, Curzio Maltese, and Lola Sánchez Caldentey.