PositionConference of Committee Chairs

In 2008, the European Parliament added to its rules of procedure details on the arrangements for hearings of the commissioners-designate, assessment of their oral presentations and the vote of appointment approving or rejecting the new Commission as a whole.


From the standpoint of organisation, first of all it is the Conference of Presidents and the Conference of Committee Chairs that jointly organise the hearings and set up the timetable. The first step consists in sending a written questionnaire to the candidates several weeks in advance (see separate article). The candidates return the completed questionnaires to the president of Parliament, who transmits them to the relevant committees for analysis.

When it comes time for the hearings, each commissioner-designate appears before the competent committee(s) - depending on the portfolio assigned - for a single public hearing lasting three hours. The candidates may be heard by a single committee, jointly by two committees, or by a lead committee with the participation of a small delegation of MEPs from one or more other committees.

The MEPs then ask the candidate to make an oral statement of no more than 20 minutes and to answer their questions. For the hearings from 11 to 19 January, the instructions are to use the ping-pong' system, ie a question must be given an immediate answer. Before the end of the hearing, the candidate will be given the opportunity to make a brief final statement. According to the regulation, the hearings must take place "in circumstances, and under conditions, in which commissioners-designate enjoy an equal and fair opportunity to present themselves and their opinions". They must also be organised "in such a way as to enable commissioners-designate to disclose to Parliament all relevant information," including their financial interests.


MEPs assess the commissioners-designate on the basis of "their general competence, European commitment and personal independence". They also assess the candidates' knowledge of their prospective portfolio and communication skills. More generally, Parliament seeks to ensure gender balance and may, if need be, express itself on the allocation of portfolios by the Commission President, in this case Jose Manuel Barroso. The EP may seek "any information relevant to its reaching a decision on the aptitude of the commissioners-designate".

A video recording of the hearing is made available...

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