Opposition to Miguel Arias Canete as Commissioner for Climate Action & Energy

At the hearings in the European Parliament into the candidacy of the 28 Commissioners Designate, a number of objections were raised to the Spanish candidate, Miguel Arias Canete.

Mr Canete was nominated for the European Commission by the Spanish Conservative Government and was proposed for the portfolio of Climate Action and Energy despite his links to oil companies.

My colleagues in the Socialists & Democrats Group (S&D) in the European Parliament had serious concerns about the suitability of his candidacy for this position.

At the Commissioner hearings, which were held on Wednesday October 1st and which can be viewed here, my S&D colleagues heavily questioned Mr Canete on his links to oil companies and his ability to remain impartial in this portfolio.

After the hearings and the concerns of the MEPs were made known, the incoming President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, put forward a number of concessions designed to ease concerns.

Mr Juncker agreed to our political group’s request to add the responsibility of sustainable development to the first Vice-President of the Commission, Frans Timmermans. It was made clear that this includes the responsibility for coordinating policy on climate action and energy.

This means that in practice Mr Timmermans will take over the responsibility for the Commission’s strategy on climate change policy.

In light of the concessions given to the S&D Group it was felt that we could support the candidacy of Mr Canete as a Commissioner while serious concerns remain about his portfolio which we have been assured will be closely supervised by Mr Timmermans.

When we vote on the composition of the European Commission we will vote on the Commission as a whole.

I am hopeful that these concessions will allay concerns about Mr Canete and the steps being taken to ensure that Climate Action and Energy is positioned at the highest level of responsibility within the European Commission, at Vice-President level.