A European Commission Vice President-designate, Dubravka Suica of Croatia, has the necessary majority support for a positive assessment of her hearing, sources at the European Parliament said on Thursday evening.
The Parliament's Committee on Constitutional Affairs, expanded to include members of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality, on Thursday evening interviewed Suica, the Croatian candidate for EC Vice-President for Democracy and Demography.
According to unofficial sources at the EP, members of Suica's political group, the EPP, were satisfied with the hearing, as were the Socialists&Democrats (S&D), the Liberals (RE), and the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR). Those who were against were the far left, the European United Left–Nordic Green Left (GUE), the far-right, Identity and Democracy (ID), and the Greens.
Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic congratulated Suica on Twitter, describing her passing the hearing as a great success for Croatia.
The hearing, which lasted slightly less than three hours, was dominated by topics regarding a Conference on the Future of Europe in 2020, which is within Suica's remit, and world-view questions.
She was also asked about her property.
In her introductory address, Suica committed to improve citizens’ participation in EU democracy and to address Europe's demographic change.
She also said that she would dedicate herself fully to the organisation of the Conference on the Future of Europe, which should start in 2020 and last two years.
The conference is expected to serve as a forum to connect European citizens, civil society and European institutions, its aim being for Europeans to say what kind of Union they want and how they want it to be run.
Questions from all seven coordinators of political groups were about that topic.
Some of the MEPs asked Suica why she had voted against a report whereby a procedure was launched against Hungary under Article 7 for violation of the rule of law and European values.
She said that she had voted against the report because she believed that the EP should not be the one to launch the procedure and that the European Commission was in a better position for that as it was a neutral arbiter. She added that she believed in the rule of law and shared the concern about some serious cases of violation of the rule of law.
A representative of the Renew Europe Group, Chrysoula Zacharopoulou, said that Suica had regularly voted against women's rights, notably sexual and reproductive rights.
French MEP Raphael Glucksmann (S&D) asked Suica about her position on abortion and family planning and asked her to condemn Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's statement that there was a danger of the European population being replaced by migrants.
I will not condemn anyone and will not be in a position to do so. As I said earlier, I am for legal migrations, Suica said.
As for abortion, she said that the issue was not within the remit of the EU but of member-states and that in her country, abortion was legal.
Swedish MEP Alice Kuhnke (Greens) said that Suica had voted against women's right to decide about their own bodies and asked her if she could promise that she would advocate women's right to abortion.
I voted the way I did not because I am against gender equality but because the reports in question always contained something that was not related to women's rights, Suica said.
I will promote human dignity, freedom, equality and minority rights, she added.
Spanish MEP Eugenia Palop (GUE) asked Suica if a family other than the traditional one was acceptable to her.
She said that she was for the traditional family but that she did not have anything against the family being defined otherwise.
A German MEP, satirist Martin Sonneborn, who does not belong to any political group, asked Suica about her property.
Can you reveal the concept of how you acquired a wealth of more than five million euros, he asked.
Committee on Constitutional Affairs chair Antonio Tajani reacted to this, saying that Suica had received the green light from the Committee on Legal Affairs and that everything was in order with her declaration of financial interests and that this was not a topic of the hearing.
Suica said that she would answer that question as well.
What you are saying does not correspond with the facts. You have read some articles that are simply not true. Twenty years ago I lived in a family house with my husband who was a sea captain and had a decent salary. My financial statements have always been transparent and in line with the rules, my financial situation has always been clear and transparent. Everything is in line with the law, she said.
The heads of parliamentary committees will meet on October 15 to decide on the outcome of all hearings and they will submit their conclusions to a conference of EP presidents, which comprises the EP president and heads of parliamentary groups. They will make final assessments and decide which candidates have passed their hearing, for which a new hearing will be requested and for which alternative candidates have to be proposed.
A vote on the entire EC is set for October 23 at a plenary session in Strasbourg and if all goes well, members of the new European Commission will take office on November 1.