Ursula von der Leyen wants Hungary and Romania to present new nominees for the next European Commission after their original candidates were rejected by the European Parliament.
The Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee voted on Monday to confirm its rejection of Romania’s Rovana Plumb and Hungary’s László Trócsányi on the grounds that their financial affairs pose potential conflicts of interest. Plumb was slated to become transport commissioner while Trócsányi was in line to be commissioner for enlargement and relations with the EU’s neighbors.
A Commission spokesperson said Monday that von der Leyen received a letter setting out the committee’s decision from Parliament President David Sassoli. The Commission president-elect is now in contact with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă, the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson said von der Leyen “expected to get new names” from the two prime ministers.
“The candidates must be suitable and match the portfolios. If something doesn’t fit, we may have to ask for new names,” the spokesperson said.
One name that Orbán suggested to von der Leyen, the spokesperson added, is Olivér Várhelyi, currently Hungary’s permanent representative to the EU.
European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee voted on Monday to confirm its rejection of Romania’s Rovana Plumb and Hungary’s László Trócsányi.
Várhelyi is highly familiar with Brussels politics. He joined Hungary’s foreign ministry in the mid-1990s and worked at the country’s mission to the EU ahead of accession, and later in the permanent representation in various senior roles.
He is also a trained lawyer with experience working in Hungary’s justice ministry, and did a stint at the Commission as head of unit responsible for industrial property rights at the Directorate General for Internal Market and Services.
While formally a career civil servant, he is known as highly loyal to Orbán and as an assertive advocate for the Hungarian government’s political priorities in ambassadors’ meetings.
At a closed-door meeting of the Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee on Monday, MEPs voted by 13 to 7 to reject Plumb as “unable to exercise” her functions as transport commissioner. They gave a similar verdict against the candidacy of Trócsányi, with 12 votes in favor of rejecting his candidacy as the future enlargement commissioner, and 9 votes against.