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Romania and Hungary will nominate new picks for European Commission

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FILE PHOTO: Hungary's former justice minister Laszlo Trocsanyi
FILE PHOTO: Hungary's former justice minister Laszlo Trocsanyi -
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Romania's prime minister has lashed out at her political rivals and the European parliament after MEPs rejected her country's nominee for the European Commission, Rovana Plumb.

Viorica Dăncilă said that there was no reason why Plumb, a prominent Romanian socialist party politician, could not serve as commissioner for EU enlargement.

"There is no proven conflict, there is no solid reason for this rejection," she said.

MEPs voted to reject Hungarian and Romanian candidates for the European Commission due to 'conflicts of interest'.

MEPs "voted that the two commissioners-designate are unable to exercise his or her functions in accordance with the Treaties and the Code of Conduct," Director-General for Communication and Spokesperson of the EP Jaume Duch said on Twitter.

"The European President will now ask what further steps Ursula von der Leyen intends to take," he added.

The commissioners-designate were first blocked by the European Parliament's legal affairs committee last 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 last week told confirmation hearings could not go ahead because of inconsistencies in their financial statements.

The move came as a blow 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.

Orban later revealed that his replacement candidate would be Oliver Varhelyi, his top envoy to the UN.

Hearings of proposed commissioners are set to take place this week. The hearings are a pre-condition for formal appointments before the new European Commission can take office in November.

"Designated Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will have to call on the Hungarian and Romanian governments to present new candidates," Sergey Lagodinsky, a co-chair of the Committee told Euronews in an emailed statement after last week's announcement.

Who are the blocked candidates?

Trocsanyi was Hungary's justice minister from 2014 until he was elected as MEP. He founded a law firm named Nagy & Trócsányi and while he suspended his activity in 2007, he still holds shares in the company.

Plumb's candidacy was last week rejected by 10 votes, with six votes in favour and two abstentions. According to media reports, concerns were raised about discrepancies between her declaration of assets made at home and in the EU.

MTI /Koszticsák Szilárd
FILE PHOTO: Romanian socialist politician Rovana Plumb (right)MTI /Koszticsák Szilárd

What next?

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

An EU official echoed Lagodinsky, saying that the commission's president-designate, Ursula von der Leyen, could ask the Hungarian and Romanian governments to select new candidates.

What are the reactions so far?

MEP József Szájer from Hungary's ruling party Fidesz last week said the decision was political witch-hunting. He claimed there was a political motivation considering that more problematic candidates, for example, the Polish nominee, didn't encounter the same obstacles.

Euractiv news website cited Romania’s Conservative MEP Siegfried Mureșan as saying that his country could have been spared this shame if the social-democrat Prime Minister Viorica Dancila had sent a competent, credible and honest candidate.

This article has been updated to remove a paragraph mistakenly attributed to Sergey Lagodinsky.

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