di Fabio Giuseppe Carlo Carisio for VT Italy
What already looked like a storm is turning into a cyclone that could also overwhelm the new president of the European Commission Ursula Von Der Leyen and all her team.
For ten days, shortly after the communication of the new EU “ministers”, bad feelings and embarrassments have been spreading in Brussels, because as many as 4 of the new Commissioners are under investigation: among them the same Von Der Leyen, in trouble in Germany for suspicious consultations entrusted by the Ministry of German defense during his mandate.
Strengthening the storm was the intervention of the European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Commission which, by virtue of new rules never applied before, now has the power to approve or reject the commissioners before their hearings in front of the assembly of MEPs ahead of the vote to confirm the assignment, that should begin – the conditional verb tense is required, given the critical situation – from the first of November.
Well the “judiciary” Commission has approved 24 appointments, but it has rejected two: the Rovana Plumb policy, indicated by Romania and chosen by the president for a delegation to the Transports, one of the candidates considered by some inadequate just for the investigations on presumed illicit actions; and the lawyer László Trócsányi, proposed by Hungary for assignment as Commissioner for Relations to neighboring EU countries.
The Hungarian is Victor Orban’s man of trust who became famous in Europe mainly for anti-immigrant laws and as the person who took away the accreditation at the University of Budapest, which was founded by Hungarian-American financier George Soros. Here is therefore the weight of the famous Soros List of MEPs considered to be friends of the Open Society Foundation of the zionist plutarch, who in past days has managed to get huge EU contributions to continue to finance the rescue operations of migrants in the Mediterranean.
Instead was approved by EU deputies of Legal Affairs the candidacy of France’s Sylvie Goulard, a former MEP and French Minister of Defense, who resigned precisely because of an inquiry into the undue use of EU funds, investigated in France; and Poland’s Janusz Wojciechowski, identified by Von der Leyen as the future European Commissioner for Agriculture, despite being immersed in an OLAF (European Anti-Fraud Office) investigation, the European Union’s anti-fraud office.
THE LEGAL AFFAIRS COMMISSION SUSPENDED TWO
If Plumb’s rejection was in the air because it was also heralded by the statements of his compatriot Dacian Ciolos, former Romanian Prime Minister and European Commissioner for Agriculture, leader of the liberal group of Renew Europe center in the European Parliament, the one of the Hungarian candidate Trócsányi is a clear “political message” to President Orban, who has already threatened legal battles if his candidate is not accepted.
Von der Leyen did not comment on the Parliament’s decision, but Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva acknowledged the suspension of the confirmation process for the two nominated. «But this does not necessarily mean that a new candidate should now be automatically proposed» he told reporters. The procedure is indeed new.
Acoording the Politico’s website report:
«Parliament officials said letters from the committee setting out its concerns lack clarity and do not explicitly state that the panel’s concerns could not be overcome. Parliament President David Sassoli was expected to ask the committee for further clarification before writing to von der Leyen, a Parliament official said.»
At the moment, we do not know the reasons for the sensational failures.
«For the two of them, there are gray areas regarding their conflicts of interest that we have been unable to clarify» said a deputy who preferred to remain anonymous.
The commission, in fact, has not yet publicly exposed the reasons for its decisions, taken during closed sessions.
«But criticism of Plumb, a former government minister from Romania’s ruling Social Democrats, has centered on two loans worth nearly €1 million that she did not declare in her original financial declaration scrutinized by MEPs – has written the journalist David M. Herszenhorn and Maïa De La Baume in Politico’s article – Trócsányi, a former justice minister, has come under scrutiny over links between a law firm he founded and work that it carried out for the Hungarian government».
It is however evident that the blocking of the candidates of Bucharest and Budapest but not to those of the other names ended by the anti-fraud agency OLAF or at the center of national investigations may be the explosive element of a overt clash between the EU countries, just at the moment when the Brexit uncertainty remains, with the risk of Brussels doing without the expensive contribution of 9 billion euros per year from Great Britain.
But let’s see in the details what are the suspects that have put some Commissioners of the Von der Leyen list to shame. And herself.
THE INVESTIGATIONS OF VON DER LEYEN AND 3 COMMISSIONERS
The new president of the European Commission is the first to have to deal with an inquiry launched by the Bundestag.
«She faces grilling by the German parliament over allegations of misspending and mismanagement during her tenure at the German Defense Ministry, which she led for five-and-half years before being tapped in early July as the first woman to head the European Commission – highlights in another report Politico – An investigative committee of the German parliament is examining how lucrative defense ministry contracts were awarded to high-priced outside consultants without proper oversight and whether a network of informal personal connections involving some ministry officials facilitated those deals. The committee plans to subpoena von der Leyen and summon her to Berlin for questioning, likely in December».
However, in the most delicate position remains the Romanian S&D politician.
« Rovana Plumb, the proposed transport commissioner, is a veteran Romanian government minister who was named in a corruption case in 2017, in which she was accused of aiding the leader of her Social Democratic party in an illicit real estate deal involving ownership of an island in the Danube River».
His compatriot Ciolos was the first to criticize her: «I know Rovana Plumb. How can I be sure that it will represent European values?». Plumb is 59 years old and in the past was Minister of Labor, Environment and European Funds. He is currently deputy leader of the Socialists in the European Parliament. She was one of the people involved in the corruption investigations that in 2017 involved several high-level politicians, but the Romanian Parliament granted her immunity.
In Romania, the decision has highlighted the tensions between the center-right president Klaus Iohannis and the social democrats, who control the government. Iohannis asked the government to present a new candidate. But the secretary general of the Social Democrats accused the Romanian opposition of sabotaging Plumb in the European Parliament: in the Legal Affairs Commission, 15 members voted to reject the candidacy, while six voted in his favor (two abstentions).
Instead, there was the candidacy of Sylvie Goulard (Alde), the trusted political ally of French President Emmanuel Macron, who has appointed Goulard as deputy governor of the Bank of France after she was forced to resign as Minister of Defense, only one month after her settlement, due to the scandal of the EU Funds.
«Meanwhile von der Leyen was preparing to unveil her roster of commissioners at a news conference in Brussels, one of the most prominent names on her list, Sylvie Goulard, a former French defense minister and ex-MEP, appeared at a police station in Nanterre, a suburb west of Paris, and submitted to questioning about allegations that she and other French MEPs employed assistants with EU funds who were actually doing work for their national parties in France» reporters Herszenhorn and De La Baume add, recalling that the former MEP would have already reimbursed the 45,000 euro that he had unduly spent to the European Parliament.
Goulard, a member of Macron’s En Marche party since 2016, is a candidate for the strategic role of Commissioner for Internal Market and Industry, may boast of being a tout court Europeanist, founder of the Spinelli Group think-tank along with Guy Verhofstadt as she entered the Soros List, which includes MEPs deemed reliable for the Hungarian financier’s Open Society Institute.
This list also includes the S&D MEP Roberto Gualtieri, appointed Minister of Economy in Italy by the Conte Bis Government (supported by 5Stelle and Democratic Party) despite being an historian teacher by profession …
In addition to the choice of von der Leyen was the choice of the European Commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski, 65, lawyer from Poland, member of the European Court of Auditors, who is under investigation by the EU anti-fraud agency OLAF for alleged irregularities in the reimbursement of travel expenses during his appointment as MEP, from 2004 to 2014, in the center-right area; he was first with the popular PPE and then with the ECR conservatives.
Just the resounding cases of Goulard and Wojciechowski have raised questions from reporters accredited to the European Parliament during the presentation of the list by Von der Leyen.
«In your team, there are a number of commissioners who are questionable, a couple of them are subject to an OLAF inquiry or investigation – a reporter asked – Why did you not just turn them down? Because otherwise your Commission might already have this tarnished image, including people who are suspected of having committed fraud, even if they are presumed innocent».
«I am not going to comment on OLAF’s investigations because they are entirely independent, they will conclude their work and we will listen to what they have to say – answered Ursula von der Leyen – OLAF is an independent body and that’s how it should be. One is always presumed to be innocent, as you quite rightly pointed out».
THE ANTI-SOROS EU COMMISIONER’S REJECTION
But now the tangle is complicated in view of the hearings before the European Parliament for the rejection of the Hungarian candidate. László Trócsányi, 63, a former university professor of European law and ambassador to various countries, became famous in Europe for his position as Minister of Justice in the government led by Viktor Orbán.
In recent years, Trócsányi has promoted laws in contradiction to the NGOs that deal with the rescue of migrants, and he promulgated legislation for the withdrawal of accreditation from the Central European University, founded by the billionaire George Soros, with the consequent possibility of its eventual closure. So here is the setback now: the French candidate Goulard, close to Macron and Soros, although being investigated for embezzlement of EU funds, was approved; the man from Orban rejected. Trócsányi called the move «a political decision .. devoid of any factual basis. I fully intend to take all legal measures against it».
«The situation has not changed. Laszlo Trocsanyi is an extraordinary man, an internationally recognized lawyer and an experienced diplomat. His only sin is to have helped the government, and myself personally, to protect Hungary from immigration and to ensure that no one can illegally enter the country without documents» said Orban on Friday in Kossuth Radio, commenting on the decision of the Affairs Committee lawyers (Juri) of the European Parliament to block the candidacy of the former Hungarian Minister of Justice for conflict of interests.
Orban confirmed on the radio that he had already spoken to the president-elect of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, about the issue.
«There are things we cannot do: we will not help the reopening of ports, the transport of migrants and their distribution in Europe» the Hungarian president added in the interview recalling the recent meeting with the Italian PM Giuseppe Conti and thus reiterating his position against the group of EU countries “pro-migrants” who want to reopen the ports in the light of agreements on the redistribution of quotas to be imposed on EU member states.
The debate on reception policies became hot on the days when news of the Neptune operation conducted by Interpol in the Mediterranean ports spread, leading to the discovery of some Foreign Fighters affiliated with ISIS jihadists.
«There is only one continent that surrenders to its suicidal tendencies and does not defend its identity. That continent is Europe» added Orban, making it clear he is ready to do battle.
And the rejection of his candidate, this may be a further “casus belli”…
Fabio Giuseppe Carlo Carisio
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