The last British commissioner

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For candidate European commissioners, a few guiding principles can help them survive confirmation hearings at the European Parliament: know something about your policy area, don t have a dodgy past, and say lots of nice things about MEPs. But Sir Julian King, Britain s candidate to join the commission, had no precedents to draw on for his hearing with parliament s civil liberties committee on Monday evening. His aim: to become the first EU commissioner from a country planning to leave the EU.

The Last British Commissioner

If you d told me a few months ago that I d be sitting here I d probably not have believed you, he told the hearing in Strasbourg. It is a particular situation. He came through it well.

On policy issues, he confidently tackled a barrage of technical questions on his new brief as security commissioner with queries on everything from counter-terrorism to data encryption. Sir Julian also benefited from the fact that his new responsibilities are in area where many in the parliament believe that the European Commission needs to be more active, meaning they welcome the impetus that could come from the creation of a security commissioner post. That thirst for more policymaking may help explain why, in the end, Sir Julian did not face many direct questions about the large elephant in the room.

Those that did come did so mainly from pro-Brexit MEPs from Britain itself. UKIP s Gerard Batten asked: which master you will cleave to? London, or Brussels. He got a clear answer: I don t think that you should read anything into my nomination to do with the wider issues of Brexit, Sir Julian said. I m not here as a representative of the British government.

He now looks a shoo in to be formally confirmed later this week as Britain s new, and very possibly last, EU commissioner. But that Brexit elephant will still be hanging around.

Email: Twitter: @jimbrunsden

Hungary row Luxembourg s foreign minister demanded that Hungary beexcluded from the EU3 for its mistreatment of refugees. Jean Asselborn argues that exclusion is the the only way to preserve the cohesion and values of the European Union . Other countries (cough) Poland should watch out, said Asselborn, who also argued that it should be possible to suspend someone from the EU without unanimity.

Warsaw Discount Holidays © holiday tour Poland s Law and Justice party s parliamentary leader underlined how little Warsaw cares about international scrutiny. The visit of the Venice Commission in Warsaw is very much a Discount Holidays © holiday tour, said Ryszard Terlecki, referring to a visit of the human rights watchdog4. We do not attach particular importance to it. All that we had to tell the Commission, we already have.

The Rachman plan The FT s Gideon Rachman comes up with a two-tier solution5 for the EU s woes: a tight federalist bloc with Germany and (probably) France at its centre and a periphery of those who are sceptical of further political integration, including the Visegrad group, the Irish, the Dutch, the Swedes and the Danes. The euro awkwardly bestrides both. But an EU with a defined tertiary bloc would rather appeal to the Brits, giving the UK the option of staying.

Voila! Full piece6.

The Last British Commissioner

Not an EU army The push for tighter defence strategy in the EU continues: France and Germany have put out another paper7 spelling out how it should work. Some historically neutral countries such as Ireland and Austria are nervy, while others are concerned about diminishing Nato s role, which was not just a British concern.

TTIP is alive Or so says Washington s chief negotiator8.

The clear message we are getting from EU member states is that, notwithstanding these recent comments there is a clear desire to keep moving forward, he said. And the closer you are to negotiations the more confident you are that in fact negotiations are moving forward.

Facebook legal woes Facebook faces another day at the European Court of Justice, after the court was asked to rule9 whether a class action against the social network in Austria was valid10. The case is being run by Max Schrems, an Austrian student who has almost single handedly made life very difficult for the $360bn company over the past five years.

Brits do quit Mere months after declaring Brits don t quit , David Cameron has resigned for a second time this time as an MP. It marks aninauspicious end11 for the former prime minister, who pledged to continue as a backbench MP. The reaction has been unkind. This Daily Telegraph piece12 David Cameron s petulant resignation as an MP shows why he leaves no lasting legacy and that he doesn t care – was typical.

Secret talks Brexit minister David Davis warned his fellow MPs13 that they should not expect to be 100 per cent in the loop during negotiations.

Clearly there is a need for parliament to be informed without giving away our negotiating position.

I may not be able to tell you everything, even in private hearings.

The comments came during a hearing in which there was some levity, according to MLex s Matthew Holehouse14:

David Davis met Irish ministers for talks in Dublin, and told them of Irish heritage.

They assumed I was applying for a passport.

Email: Twitter: @duncanrobinson16

References

  1. ^ FT.com – Alerts Hub (nbe.ft.com)
  2. ^

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