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EU's von der Leyen in dilemma as lawmakers bloc Hungarian, Romanian members of her team

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By Reuters
EU's von der Leyen in dilemma as lawmakers bloc Hungarian, Romanian members of her team
FILE PHOTO: EU Commission President-designate Ursula Von der Leyen leads a seminar of the new European Commission designated executives at the Chateau du Lac hotel in Genval, Belgium, September 12, 2019. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir   -   Copyright  FRANCOIS LENOIR(Reuters)

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen faces a major political headache after European lawmakers confirmed on Monday they would stop proposed commissioners from Romania and Hungary from taking office because of conflicts of interest.

Von Der Leyen will likely have to decide whether to push through the candidates in the face of lawmakers’ rejections or pick a fight with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and the socialist Romanian government by asking them to select new candidates.

EU transport commissioner-designate, Romania’s Rovana Plumb, and the proposed commissioner for EU enlargement, Hungary’s former justice minister Laszlo Trocsanyi, were told by lawmakers that their confirmation hearings could not take place because of issues in their financial statements, a parliament spokesman said on Monday.

The unprecedented decision taken by lawmakers in the parliament’s committee on legal affairs upheld a vote by the same committee last week to block the two candidates.

Trocsanyi called the decision a “blatant injustice” and “a collection of lies”, and said he will appeal it.

Von der Leyen, who needs to pass a confidence vote in the parliament before taking office in November, will decide what to do after the president of the parliament David Sassoli sends her a formal letter explaining the assembly’s position on the two rejected candidates, commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said.

(Reporting by Marine Strauss; editing by Francesco Guarascio; Editing by Toby Chopra)