Procedure for EP hearings of the Commissioners-designate
The European Parliament committees sent written questions to the Commissioners-designate on 18 September. By 26 September each candidate had to respond to at least five questions:
- two general questions common to all,- the first on general competence, European commitment and personal independence, and the second on management of the portfolio and cooperation with Parliament and
- three questions from the committee responsible. Joint committees may also put an additional two questions each.
From 29 September to 7 October, the Commissioners-designate will be heard by the European Parliament committees relevant to their proposed fields of responsibility. The hearings are held in public and broadcast and web-streamed live.
Where portfolios are mixed, there are three options for the hearings:
- if the portfolio falls within the remit of a single committee, the candidate will be heard only by that committee;
- if the portfolio falls more or less equally within the remit of more than one committee, the candidate will be heard jointly by those committees;
- if the portfolio falls mainly within the remit of one and only to a small extent within that of another committee, the candidate will be heard by the committee mainly responsible, with the association of the other committee or committees.
The hearing of the First Vice-President designate Frans Timmermans will have a different format. He will appear before a Conference of Presidents open to all MEPs in view of his horizontal responsibilities.
Each hearing will last three hours. Candidates may make an opening statement of no longer than 15 minutes. Where possible, questions will be grouped together by theme. The bulk of the speaking time will be allotted to political groups. Before the end of the hearing, the candidate will have the chance to make a brief closing statement.
Each committee will then meet in camera to draft its evaluation of the candidate's expertise and performance, and then send it to the President of the Parliament. In the past, these hearings have sometimes led to candidates withdrawing or having their portfolio changed.
Where committees require further information in order to complete their evaluation, the President will write on their behalf to the incoming President of the Commission.
The committees' evaluations will be examined by the committee chairs and presented to the Conference of Presidents, which will declare the hearings closed.