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EP Foreign Affairs Committe Okays Várhelyi’s Appointment

Ábrahám Vass 2019.11.18.

After insisting in letter that he would work independently from Viktor Orbán, the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) has finally given the green light for Hungarian commissioner-designate Olivér Várhelyi to lead the EC’s enlargement and neighbourhood portfolio.

This comes on the heels of Várhelyi’s hearing last Thursday, after which, instead of giving him the green-light, he was asked to answer further written questions.

According to Politico, Várhelyi (again) promised in his response letter that

I will neither be bound nor influenced by any statement or position of any Prime Minister of any country or any other representatives of any government.”

The European People’s Party’s parliamentary group said on Twitter that the foreign affairs committee had backed Várhelyi’s candidacy with a two-thirds majority as required for his approval as commissioner.

Várhelyi wasn’t the Hungarian government’s original choice. Orbán wanted former justice minister László Trócsányi for the job, who left his office to be an MEP and a Commissioner. But Trócsányi failed twice at the European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) over conflicts of interest.

Apart from the UK, who hasn’t appointed anybody for commissioner, Hungary was the last country not have a Commission-designate approved yet. The EP’s Conference of Committee Chairs is expected to review the evaluations and recommendations given for the commissioner candidates and bring a formal end to the hearings on Thursday.

The EP’s plenary is expected to vote on the new Commission on the 27th of November.

Featured photo by Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI