September 26, 2019 / 10:50 AM / 18 days ago

Romanian, Hungarian candidates for EU executive blocked

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Candidates for the European Commission from Hungary and Romania have conflicts of interest that undermine their candidacies, EU officials said on Thursday.

The EU transport commissioner-designate, Romanian socialist politician Rovana Plumb, and the proposed commissioner for EU enlargement, Hungary’s former justice minister Laszlo Trocsanyi, were told confirmation hearings could not go ahead because of inconsistencies in their financial statements, officials said.

The move is an embarrassment for Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who proposed Trocsanyi, and for the Romanian government, which is embroiled in a political crisis and has already faced resistance in Brussels over other candidates.

The EU parliament’s legal committee “just voted that the Romanian candidate Commissioner Rovana Plumb should not go to the hearing,” Thibaut Kleiner, one of the top aides of EU commissioner for human resources Guenther Oettinger, said on Twitter.

Hearings of proposed commissioners will take place from next week. The hearings are a pre-condition for formal appointments before the new European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, can take office in November.

One parliament’s official said the parliament’s legal committee had raised the same concerns over Trocsanyi.

The committee has the power to suspend hearings of commissioners-designate if an assessment of their financial declarations shows they have conflicts of interest.

Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva told a news conference that a number of options were possible about the next steps.

An EU official said that the commission’s president-designate, Ursula von der Leyen, could ask the Hungarian and Romanian governments to select new candidates, if the two cannot clear the conflicts before the hearings.

Reporting by Francesco Guarascio @fraguarascio; editing by Philip Blenkinsop, Larry King

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