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EP committee blocks Trócsányi nomination as commissioner

Members of the European Parliamentʼs Committee on Legal Affairs have rejected both the Romanian and Hungarian nominees to sit on the next European Commission over concerns about potential conflicts of interest, according to multiple press reports. 

László Trócsányi (photo: kormany.hu)

Citing concerns about conflicts of interest, the committee blocked Rovana Plumb of Romania, the nominee for transport commissioner, and Hungaryʼs László Trócsányi, who was in line to be commissioner for relations with the EUʼs neighbors and enlargement of the union.

Both Plumb and Trócsányi had been due to face confirmation hearings from specialist committees next week. The unprecedented move means the pair cannot proceed to the confirmation hearings for the new Commission of Ursula von der Leyen, which is due to take office on November 1, European news site politico.eu reported.

The committee voted against Trócsányi by a margin of 11 against and nine in favor. Two MEPs abstained.

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, politico.eu noted.

However, the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán accused the committee of rejecting its nominee due to Budapestʼs hard line against migration from outside the EU, and Trócsányiʼs role - as then justice minister - in drafting legislation “so that no one could arrive in the territory of the country illegally, without documents.”

The prime minister indicated that he spoke with von der Leyen on Thursday, and that they had agreed to await the committeeʼs written opinion before consulting again. “I have in my pocket a second, third and fourth solution,” Orbán was cited as saying by official government website kormany.hu, when asked if he would be thinking about a replacement candidate.

Trócsányi himself branded the move “a political decision ... lacking any factual basis,” declaring that he fully intends to take all legal steps against it.

According to EU rules, if the committee concludes a nominee could not carry out the duties of a commissioner, the Parliament president should ask the Commission chief how she plans to proceed, explained the politico.eu report. Von der Leyen could try to address the committeeʼs concerns and ask MEPs to reconsider the nominees, or she could also withdraw the nominees and ask their governments to put forward new candidates, it added.

Commenting earlier in September on the choice of Trócsányi as Hungaryʼs nomination for the European Commission, Sophie in ʼt Veld - a Dutch liberal MEP who sits on the EPʼs Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs - said he would face “a very rough ride” at confirmation hearings in the European Parliament.