Clearly focused performances by Italy’s Franco Frattini have won him the backing of the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties and Legal Affairs committees for the post of commissioner for justice, freedom and security. The other new nominees for the revamped European Commission also made it through their confirmation hearings painlessly.
This clears the way for the EU executive and an investiture vote this week. Former Hungarian Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs showed greater mastery of his new taxation brief than he displayed on energy last month; he opposed EU tax harmonisation. He also defended his Communist past. Latvia’s Andris Piebalgs convinced the Industry, Research and Energy Committee of his fitness to be energy commissioner. It all means incoming Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso will be able to present a strengthened team to parliament for Thursday’s vote. He and his 24 designates could then begin work next week — three weeks behind schedule. Frattini, Italy’s outgoing foreign minister, spoke in general terms of his deep attachment to fundamental rights and the EU constitution, and evaded questions on laws he drafted which protect his prime minister from prosecution. To clear away any speculation about whether he was a Free-Mason, he said he is not.