Connected Research

Union policy research in the 21st century

EU hearing no picnic for Kroes

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European Voice reported yesterday that Neelie Kroes, the Dutch politician who is currently EU Competition Commissioner and who has been nominated to head the new department of the digital agenda, has written to the European Parliament’s industry, research and energy committee to clarify points raised in her hearing, which took place on Thursday last week.

Kroes’s letter is, according to European Voice, intended to stave off concerns over whether she is sufficiently prepared for the job following the ‘disappointment and frustration‘ [registration required; limited viewing time] of the members of the committee over her performance. It has been reported that Kroes was ‘off her game‘ at the hearing, which was also reported as having been one of the tougher ones, no doubt prompted by Kroes’s own reputation, and that Kroes had done herself no favours by sticking to her desk at Competition since the announcement of the new Commission rather than on playing the political game. Kroes’s appearance before the parliament seems to have been marked by a broad-brush, with little details emerging other than a commitment to net neutrality and to free online expression, to tightening up Europe’s diverse online copyright laws and to building a single digital market, and to the principle of mobile roaming, but without a coherent legislative programme tying it all together. To be fair, the brief on the digital agenda is a new one. It has also been suggested that European People’s Party members have been under instructions not to sanction Kroes’s appointment until their own Commissioner nominees had been approved.

The committee has not written its formal evaluation and it has been suggested that Kroes will receive an invitation to a second hearing, likely to be held this morning at 11 am in camera although this had not been confirmed as of last night. Parliament was due to vote on the new Commission on January 26th, although this now looks likely to be postponed until the second week of February following the withdrawal from the process of Rumiana Jeleva, the much-criticised Bulgarian Commissioner-designate.

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Written by Calvin

19/01/2010 at 11:29 am

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