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After a long wait, the European Parliament has finally approved the nominations of commissioners Breton, Vălean and Várhelyi. Now only the final vote remains before the next Commission is inaugurated.
On 18 November the European Parliament gave the green light to the final three European commissioner nominees – namely, those of France, Romania and Hungary. On 27 November there will be a plenary vote on the finalised von der Leyen Commission, which is expected to take office by the first of December, more than six months after last May’s European elections.
The final knot to unravel is the lack of a British nomination, and the possibility of a Commission composed of 27 members instead of 28 – but this should be resolved by the European Council in the coming days. The hearings for new commissioners began last 30 September, but after the rejection of the nominees proposed by France, Romania and Hungary, the hearings were extended into the second half of November.
Over this period, the trending hashtag among MEPs on Twitter was #EPHearings2019. In some cases, the hashtag was used to highlight hearing proceedings. Others, meanwhile, used the hashtag to express their dissatisfaction with the nominees: French nominee Thierry Breton, designated commissioner for the internal market, Romanian nominee Adina-Ioana Vălean, designated commissioner for transport, or Hungarian nominee Olivér Várhelyi, designated commissioner for enlargement.
Initially, Várhelyi (former Hungarian ambassador for the European Union and close ally to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán) had not convinced MEPs, who wanted to extend the hearings by a few days to dispel any doubts concerning his independence from the Budapest government, and demanded that he respond to additional questions in writing. However, the nomination of Thierry Breton, former French economy minister, was approved immediately, as was that of former vice-president of the European Parliament Adina-Ioana Vălean.