European Western Balkans

Confirmation of Olivér Várhelyi: What are the steps after the setback?

Oliver Varhelyi in AFET; Photo: European Union

BRUSSELS – Commissioner-designate for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi will have until next Monday to answer additional written questions. If these turn out to be unsatisfactory, another round of hearing will have to take place, probably on Tuesday.

This was confirmed for European Western Balkans from the European Parliament. According to our source, the coordinators (leaders of the political groups in the EP Foreign Affairs Committee, responsible for the Várhelyi’s portfolio) will decide on Monday afternoon whether they can vote with a 2/3 majority in favour of his appointment.

If this does not happen, there will be an additional AFET Hearing of an hour and a half, probably on Tuesday.

If the coordinators again do not find a 2/3 majority in favour after that, there will be a vote in AFET and a simple majority would be enough for his appointment. If he was rejected again, Hungary would have to appoint a new Commissioner-designate, it was confirmed for EWB.

European Commission as a whole will still have to be confirmed by the MEPs in a plenary session of the European Parliament, currently scheduled for 27 November. It is planned for the Commission of Ursula von der Leyen to begin its mandate on 1 December.

However, the rejection of Várhelyi by AFET yesterday means that it is not entirely certain that the new Commission will be in office on that date.

Fortunately for von der Leyen, other two alternate candidates, nominated by France and Romania, were successfully confirmed by their respective Committees. Várhelyi was rejected by 30 to 48 majority in AFET following his hearing on Thursday morning.

During the hearing, Hungarian nominee was repeatedly asked to distance himself from the troubling statements of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, failing to do so in the eyes of MEPs from S&D, Renew, Greens/EFA and GUE/NGL, who voted against his candidacy.

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