Back on stage – the Hearings of Commissioners designate

After the hold-up of the Council on the nominations of key positions in the European Institutions, the hearings in the EP were a crucial moment before the new Commission gets into office.

For those who voted for a fair and sustainable Europe, presented by coming Commission President von der Leyen, the nomination proposals had included a number of unsuitable mandates and controversial candidates to take office in the new European Commission. Their proposals partially fall far short of the mark on many fronts, including key challenges like democracy, peace, social inclusion and poverty eradication, a fairer trade policy and climate action.

Yet SOLIDAR supports and strives for a progressive society. And as progressives we are intrinsically optimists. Things can change for the better, if there is enough political will to do so. However, we live on the ground, where our members do work to advancing social justice on a daily basis, to tackle the shortfalls of inequality and where the criminalisation of solidarity and shrinking civic space are a daily harsh reality.
For things to change, a true policy paradigm shift is a need. A shift from the growth first and then redistribution, a shift from yes we need to tackle climate change, but please not so radical, a shift that overcomes the use of migrants as scapegoats for short-term electoral goals. A shift away from attempts to divert the social frustrations of the many against the few by turning the worst-off against each other. A shift that moves the aim from growth to sustainability – social justice, climate justice, international cooperation.

This week we have been closely following the hearings of the Commissioners designate – the only very democratic step in the appointment of this Commission, as Nicolas Schmit recalled in his final remarks.

Rounding up this week means summing up what happened at the hearings. Including the conflicts of interests and lack of clarity of information as assessed by the JURI Committee in the European Parliament for two Commissioners designate, who were at last ousted from the race – Trócsányi and Plumb. Uncertainty is still on Goulard and her mega portfolio. Commissioners who are doubtful in terms of respect of democratic rule of law cannot deliver the paradigm shift that we demand. Nor can democracy be guaranteed and the Treaties guarded by someone who approved all the measures taken by the Hungarian government to undermine civic space.

We are concerned, but also aware that there are reasons for hope if the European Parliament plays its role. We are here, as always, the voice of progressive civil society organisations working to advance social justice across Europe and worldwide. We want to be allies of policy-makers to improve legislation as much as watchdogs to warn society when things take a wrong turn. Now, as for the next five years.

The exiting Commission was presented by its President Juncker as the “last Exit”. Did we miss the exit? However, the coming Commission shall understand that it shall not “deliver”, but put policies in place that allow citizens to trust in the capacity of the European Institutions and which dry out the seed of the populist far-right.