• Photo courtesy of the European Parliament

    Commissioner hearings: what change has Parliament secured?

    With the vote of confidence by the European Parliament (by 423 to 209) allowing the Juncker Commission to take office, it is a good moment to ask what the Parliament has achieved after two weeks of intensive questioning, investigation and cross-examination of proposed commissioners. The media focus was on whether one or the other candidate […]

  • Margrete VESTAGER

    MEPs keep the Commission in line

    As a member of the European Parliament’s Constitutional Affairs committee, I’ve been observing the Commissioner hearings to see how the procedure can be improved in the future. The process, and my report, is yet to be finalised – but I have written some of my initial thoughts in an article for the Parliament Magazine: When it […]

  • Photo courtesy of the European Commission

    A common sense guide to EU reform

    Europe’s World (a European policy journal) have published an article of mine that outlines my thoughts on EU reform: Reform in the European context is an ongoing process, not a one-off event to be initiated, negotiated and completed within a self-proclaimed deadline. Rather, the whole point of the EU is to be a non-stop negotiating forum, year in […]

  • Photo courtesy of the European Parliament

    A referendum, and to hell with the consequences

    Many studies – both polls and in-depth research – have demonstrated that, the more people understand about the EU and how it works, the more positive their feelings are towards it. Nigel Farage knows this as well as anyone. And this explains his announcement over the weekend – predictably lapped up by the eurosceptic press […]

  • Photo courtesy of the European Parliament

    Hearings: what have we achieved?

    With the near-completion of the hearings process last night, it’s reasonable to ask what the European Parliament has achieved after two weeks of intensive questioning, investigation and cross-examination of proposed Commissioners. No doubt the media will focus on the demise of the prospective Commissioner Alenka Bratusek, whose hearing revealed shortcomings so obvious that only 13 […]

  • Photo by Richard

    A lesson in democracy?

    Left Foot Forward have published an article of mine reviewing the hearings process and comparing it to the national political scene: How illuminating it would be, then, if the Commons took a greater interest in ministerial appointments and submitted ministers to close questioning in public confirmation hearings before they could take office! What a powerful […]

  • Photo courtesy of European Parliament

    Setting the record straight on hearings

    It’s great that there’s been some media interest — even in the UK — in the cross-examinations of candidate European Commissioners which are happening this week and next in the European Parliament. Among a lot of surprisingly accurate coverage, one less plausible claim is also rearing its head. This is the suggestion that these hearings […]

  • Lord Hill in parliamentary hearing (photo courtesy of European Parliament)

    Hill hearing: initial reflections

    The highly anticipated cross-examinations of the British nominee for the Commission, Lord Hill, took place this afternoon. Earlier in the day I set the scene with my preview of the hearing, so now it’s time to share my initial reflections on his performance. Hill went out of his way to charm MEPs. He started his address […]

  • Me in Commissioner-designate Vella's hearing

    Hill hearings: a preview

    One of the most highly anticipated Commissioner cross-examinations kicks off today in the European Parliament at 12:30 (UK time): that of the British nominee, Lord Hill. By way of setting the scene, I’ve been asked many times in the last few days whether Parliament is ‘gunning for’ Lord Hill, or indeed any of the other […]

  • Image by Ian Britton

    Tweets for birds

    In the build-up to this week’s public hearings in the European Parliament of European Commission candidates, one of the issues I’ve most been contacted on by constituents is illegal bird hunting in Malta (thanks to the visibility brought to the issue by Springwatch’s Chris Packham). The many passionate emails and tweets I’ve received wanted to […]

  • Palace of Westminster

    How to improve scrutiny

    As I said yesterday, the Conservatives’ claim that they’re trying to claw back an over-active EU, which has over-regulated and inflicted red tape on hapless countries against their will, should be taken with a pinch of salt. No EU legislation can be adopted without the support of an overwhelming majority of national governments. A ‘qualified […]

  • Photo courtesy of European Parliament

    Yes, reform — but what reform?

    On the EU, there is scarcely a politician of any mainstream party who isn’t saying “reform!”. But what reforms? There’s no agreed cross-party reform agenda in the UK, nor is there an agreed a coalition one. There isn’t even a single Tory agenda, given the deep divisions on Europe in the Conservative party. Nonetheless, the […]