In her introductory speech, the Commission candidate talked about the three basic priorities she will focus on during her work. She spoke about European democracy and how the process of choosing European representatives in the elections could change in the future.
Jourová defends journalists
She said she will monitor the criminal charges against journalists. "Journalists should not be persecuted and killed for their work," she said. In the future, financial and legal assistance could be offered to journalists who are sued. "I will work hard to find ways to support investigative journalists and protect journalists from threats." she said.
Babiš a recurring theme
Some committee members said in advance that they planned to ask whether Jourová would also ensure that the rule of law and media freedom in the Czech Republic is respected and can be independent of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš. Some MEPs believe Babiš is in a conflict of interest, controlling large businesses, including some media outlets, through trust funds.
MEP Jiří Pospíšil (TOP 09) asked her whether she agreed with Prime Minister Babiš's statement that in the Czech Republic, criminal prosecution can be arranged. "We live in a country where you can order prosecution and probably put someone in jail," he said in January last year in the upper chamber of the Czech Parliament.
“The Czech justice system has come a long way since 2016, and it has moved forward. I disagree with this opinion, coming from anyone,”Jourová said on Monday.
Slovak MEP Vladimir Bilchik asked a similar question. First he asked Jourová whether she would publicly commit to cooperating with the European Parliament in the future. He then asked whether she agreed with Andrej Babiš's statement that "the European Parliament is a place of useless talks". She replied by saying “Of course, I disagree with that opinion. I think parliaments are a very important part of our democracy.”.
Transparency of elections and cybersecurity
The Czech EU Commissioner also intends to ensure the transparency of election campaigns in the Member States, some of which have recently experienced attempts to influence elections from the outside. In this context, she will consider updating the EU cyber security standard to protect key infrastructure from cyber-attacks. According to Jourová, this could also apply to political parties, as well.
You can view Věra Jourová's entire European Parliament hearing here.