Commissioner Vera Jourova to Face Grilling on Babis Links

The proposed Czech Vice-President of the European Commission, Vera Jourova in charge of the rule of law portfolio, will have to prepare for questions related to Prime Minister Andrej Babis during a grilling in the European Parliament.

Jourova to face questions on rule of law record

From November, Jourova will be in charge of European values and transparency in the new European Commission. Her new boss, Ursula von der Leyen, has included the rule of law and the independence of the media in the Commission's agenda. Some MEPs have already expressed concern over Jourova's affiliation to the Czech Prime Minister's political movement ANO and recalled the possible conflict of interests based on the EC's dealings with Babis.

"It must be quite clear that (Jourova) will not ignore any criticism concerning the rule of law in the Czech Republic," said German MEP Damian Boeselager of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs (AFCO). Its members, together with the members of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), will be asking Jourova questions related to her portfolio during a three-hour hearing.

She will not avoid questions about her ties to Babis

According to Boeselager, Jourova, unlike many Czech MEPs, "never loudly opposed Babis and thus managed to maintain her position as a European Commissioner". However, in the end of the five-year period the Czech Commissioner proved that she could be independent of the Czech government. A member of the parliamentary group of the Greens added that she now needs to convince the European Parliament that this trend will continue.

Some other members consider Jourova's work as Commissioner for Justice, Consumer Protection and Equal Rights of Men and Women as a guarantee that she can also take care of the rule of law and the transparency of the authorities.

"This is, in principle, a good preparation for the position of Vice-President for European Values and Transparency," said Austrian LIBE Committee member Karoline Edtstadler, who has observed Jourova's work in great detail without having any fundamental objections. The Czech Commissioner, however, like all other candidates, regardless of her previous work, will undergo a detailed interview and her success can't be guaranteed in advance of the hearing, MEPs said.

If she is approved, Jourova needs to do more

According to Boeselager, Jourova had reserves in some areas of her portfolio and failed, for example, to persuade Member States to adopt a principle guaranteeing greater representation of women in management. "That is why I want her to be stronger in her ambitions over each of her areas, European values, transparency, rule of law or constitutional issues in the next five years," the German politician said.

Jourova's hearing will take place on 7 October/ Like all the other candidates, and she will have to answer 25 questions to Members.