EurActiv.com Correspondent's Choice

This article was first posted on EurActiv.com on 8th January 2010.

Some commissioners-designate are more stressed than others ahead of their hearings in the European Parliament, which start next week, sources told EurActiv. Bulgarian candidate Rumiana Jeleva in particular needs to “come clean” following conflict of interest allegations, Parliament insiders said.

MEPs will grill the commissioners-designate of the Barroso II team from 11 to 19 January.

Parliament sources told EurActiv that the hearings will concentrate mostly on policy and less on the personality of the candidates, although some will need to “come clean” about their past or conflicts of interest.

As a novelty, centre-left MEPs invited members of the public to submit online questions to commissioners-designate. In a press release, Socialists & Democrats (S&D) group Vice-President Hannes Swoboda (Austria) says his group wants to make sure that “only the best possible candidates” are appointed for the next five-year term.

Communist ‘witch hunt’?

Swoboda also appears to pre-empt attacks by the centre-right on the “communist past” of some candidates, presumably Slovak Maroš Šecovic, Czech Štefan Füle and Estonian Siim Kallas.

Kallas, who was also a member of the first Barroso team, is the only one to have indicated in his CV that he was a member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union between 1972 and 1990.

Barroso himself was a Maoist activist in his native Portugal during his youth, but does not mention this in his official biography.

Hungarian Commissioner-designate László Andor has reportedly not been a member of his country’s communist party, but he stands accused by the centre-right Fidesz party of being a “neo-Marxist”.

“The hearings must not be turned into a circus by a few right-wingers who are obsessed with the ridiculous fear that the new Commission will be packed with closet communists. What affiliations people had 40 years ago in a Europe that was completely different from the one we live in today has no bearing on the challenges that face the European Union for the future,” Swoboda said.

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