Democratic assessment: hearings of commissioners-designate 

Parliament will hold hearings to scrutinise proposed commissioners  

Before the new European Commission - the EU’s executive body - can take office, Parliament is organising public hearings to assess the commissioners’ suitability for the job.

On 23-26 May, more than 200,000,000 people in 28 EU countries went to the polls to elect members of the European Parliament, giving them a strong democratic mandate, including voting into office the new European Commission and examining the competencies and abilities of its commissioners-designate. Elected members of the European Parliament also listen to their ideas and  assess their willingness to take concrete actions on the issues that Europeans care about.

In July, MEPs elected Ursula von der Leyen as the next president of the European Commission and MEPs are reponsible for examining the competencies and abilities of her proposed team of commissioners to deliver the programme that she committed to in the European Parliament

The hearings: how it works

Once the Council has approved the final list of commissioners-designate, the incoming Commission president unveils her new team, the College of Commissioners, including the allocation of portfolios.

Before the commissioners-designate can take office, Parliament organises hearings with the proposed candidates to examine whether their skills and qualifications match the posts proposed for them.

Each candidate is invited to a three-hour hearing, streamed live, in front of the parliamentary committee or committees responsible for the portfolio they have been assigned. Following the hearing, the responsible committees prepare their evaluation of the candidate’s competence, which is then finalised by the Conference of Presidents, made up of the leaders of the political groups and the Parliament's president.

Occasionally, the hearings can lead to the withdrawal of a candidate or to a change in their portfolios. For instance, in 2014  Alenka Bratušek, who had been proposed for the energy portfolio, withdrew her candidacy following a negative evaluation by Parliament’s energy and environment committees.

Once the hearings are completed, Parliament will vote into office the new Commission. On this basis, the new commissioners can start their mandate. This process, in turn, strengthens the legitimacy of the actions of the future EU executive.