On Monday, the European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) confirmed its position that there is a conflict of interest between the post of commissioner to which László Trócsányi, Hungary’s former justice minister, has been designated and the activities of a law firm associated with him.
JURI had already interviewed Trócsányi last Thursday, established the conflict of interest in a secret ballot and decided not to propose his and Romanian candidate Plumb’s appointment. Following a legal debate, however, EP President David Sassoli asked the committee to formulate exactly what solution they offer for the EC’s incoming president Ursula von der Leyen. Today, as a result, they only voted on the content of the letter and not about the conflict of interest.
Long story short, as per Politico’s analysis, it is now down to EC’s incoming president Ursula von der Leyen to decide how she wants to proceed. According to EU rules, if JURI rejects a nominee, the EP president then asks the EC’s president how she plans to proceed. Von der Leyen could try to address the committee’s concerns and ask MEPs to reconsider the nominees. She could also withdraw the nominees and ask their governments to put forward new candidates. In the first case, she risks that her cabinet would eventually be rejected by the EP’s plenary committee. In the second, she might face hardships too, as the Orbán government seems to stand firmly by Trócsányi.
Trócsányi rebuffed the criticism, commenting that “the decision in question is indeed a collection of lies, wrong shortcuts and tendentious amalgam” and accused JURI of making a politically motivated decision to punish Hungary’s government. In addition, he issued a statement threatening legal action against the decision.
Ruling Fidesz MEP József Szájer called the committee’s move a “cowardly decision.” He insisted that Trócsányi had been the victim of “political lynching” by leftist members of the body, who “sought to punish him for protecting Hungarian citizens by creating the legal border seal.”
Socialist MEP István Ujhelyi said that he hopes that Viktor Orbán would soon appoint a new commissioner, “who was not personally involved in the implementation of the illiberal state.”
According to liberal Momentum MEP Katalin Cseh, “Trócsányi failed multiple times. It may be difficult for Fidesz to understand that what’s going on in Europe is not what they want, and if he (Orbán) does not change, he will continue to undermine not only his own reputation but that of the country as a whole. “