Brussels, 25 October 2006
Accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the EU:
the appointment procedure for the two new
Article 45 of the Act of Accession sets out that "A national of each new
Member State shall be appointed to the Commission as from the date of accession.
The new Members of the Commission shall be appointed by the Council, acting by
qualified majority and by common accord with the President of the Commission,
after consulting the European Parliament". Compared to former enlargements, the
Accession Treaty for Bulgaria and Romania for the first time explicitly
fore-sees the consultation of the European Parliament.
The main steps in the appointment procedure for the two new
Commissio-ners, as set out in Article 45 of the Act of Accession:
- proposal (to the Council and in agreement with the Commission President)
of a nominee by the governments of Romania and Bulgaria;
- formal designation of these candidates by the Council and formal
consulta-tion of Parliament;
- assignment of portfolios to the nominees by the Commission
- hearings of the Commissioners-designate before the competent
parliamen-tary committees and subsequent vote in plenary;
- formal appointment of the new Commissioners by the
The President of the Commission wrote to the Prime
Ministers of Bulgaria and Romania on 26 September, inviting them to launch the
appointment procedure by announcing the names of the candidates as soon as
possible after the October Council meetings (GAERC/Informal Summit Lahti), so
that the portfolios can be assigned and Parliament be informed immediately
The role of the European Parliament.
- It must be noted that Parliament’s opinion is compulsory, but not
binding from a legal point of view; however, from a political point of view, and
in light of the commitments entered into in the revised Framework Agreement
(article 3), it is clear that a negative vote would signal a lack of confidence
in the candidate. Should that be the case, the President of the Commission would
have to give serious consideration to Parliament’s view, in accordance
with the Framework Agreement; (Article 3 FA: "If Parliament decides to express
lack of confidence in a Member of the Commission, the President of the
Commission, having given serious consideration to that decision, shall either
request that member to re-sign, or explain his or her decision to Parliament").
The exact range of measures the President may take is not indicated
in the Framework Agreement. The Pre-sident may decide, inter alia, to ask the
Commissioner-designate to resign, to allocate him/her a different portfolio or
to withdraw certain tasks from him/her.
- While Parliament’s opinion is compulsory from a legal point of view,
the hear-ing procedure is not requested by the Treaties and thus remains a
purely politi-cal and preparatory exercise. The hearings are an internal
instrument used by Parliament in order to prepare the way for its final vote on
the new Commissio-ners and to better asses the candidates’ personal
integrity and professional ca-pacities. Parliamentary hearings of Commission
candidates were first used in 1995. Since then, Parliament has consolidated this
practice, namely in the event of (a) the approval of a new Commission, (b) a
vacancy to be filled, (c) the ac-cession of a new Member State and (d) a
substantial reshuffle of portfolios. The revised Framework Agreement of 2005
codifies the practice already established during the previous hearing exercises.
The Commission has always welcomed the hearing procedure as a useful tool to
increase the democratic legitimacy and accountability of the Commission
vis-à-vis the Parliament.
- The hearings will keep the same format as the previous hearings in 2004:
their organisation will be based on the principles, criteria and arrangements
set out in Parliament’s resolution of December 2005 (DUFF report). The
oral part of the hearings will be prepared by written answers to be given by the
Commis-sioner-designate to a general and a portfolio related questionnaire. The
general questionnaire is likely to be the same as in 2004, with only a slight
update as re-gards the question on the Future of Europe. The specific
questionnaire will be limited to 5 questions. The answers given by the
Commissioners-designate will be published on Parliament's website. Each
Commissioner-designate will ap-pear before the appropriate parliamentary
committee or committees for a single hearing of three hours. The hearings will
be in public. Observers from Romania and Bulgaria will be able to actively
participate in these hearings. The evaluation will take place on the grounds of
general competence, European commitment and independence, knowledge of the
relevant portfolio and communication skills.
- The Conference of Presidents decides upon the com-mittees responsible for
the hearings, once names and portfolios of candidates are known by then; the
adoption of the specific questionnaires by the competent committees is foreseen
for 6 November; the hearings are scheduled for 27 No-vember (afternoon),
followed by an evaluation by the Conference of Committee Chairs at the end of
the same week, and by the Conference of Presidents du-ring the following
- On 28 September, the Conference of Presidents decided that Parliament will
vote only on the two new Commissioners, and not on the whole enlarged
Com-mission (as this was the case in May 2004).
- Parliament will vote in plenary in the December session (11-15/12/2006)
according to the decision of the Conference of Presidents of 26
The Commission provides to Commissioners-designate certain services in
order to facilitate their interaction with the Commission and the EP during the
- a contract as special advisor;
- mission expenses;
- the possibility to be assisted by 1 administrator and 1 secretary (either
to be employed on a contractual basis or by making available in-house
- access to the Commission's carpool and drivers;
- offices and the related equipment and services (e.g. telephone, computers
- logistical support to be offered by our delegations in Bulgaria and
- support from the Commission Spokespersons Service on media
Languages: Interpretation from/into Romania and
Bulgarian will be available in the Press Room for the debriefing of Commission
meetings from 1 January. IP Notes, Memos in the two languages will be available
from the same date.
Declaration of interests
In line with previous practice, the declarations of interest of the new
commissioners will be published.
The appointment of the two new Commissioners –
Adoption of the Commission's monitoring report on Bulgaria and Romania (COM
(2006) 549), in which it concludes that the two countries will be in a position
to accede to the Union on 1 January 2007, as provi-ded in the Accession
General Affairs and External Relations Council en-dorses this
Decision by the Conference of Presidents on the ge-neral framework of the
Indication of names of candidates by the Bulgarian and Romanian governments
to the Council, in agre-ement with the President of the Commission; assi-gnment
of portfolios by the President of the Com-mission; formal designation of
candidates by the Council and formal consultation of Parliament.
26 October (planned)
Decision of the Conference of Presidents on the di-vision of
responsibilities of the parliamentary com-mittees for the hearings.
6 November (planned)
Adoption of questionnaires in parliamentary commit-tees.
Hearings before the parliamentary committees, im-mediately followed by
Extraordinary meeting of the Conference of Commit-tee Chairs.
Conference of Presidents meeting.
Closure of the hearings.
Vote of approval by Parliament on the two new Com-missioners, followed by
formal appointment of the two new Commissioners by the Council (exact date to be
1 January 2007
Accession of Bulgaria and Romania
Date to be confirmed
Oath before the Court of Justice