Hearings of the Commissioners-designate

This note provides information on the election of the new Commission and the hearings of the Commissioners-designate, which start on 30 September.

Structure of the hearings

The detailed schedule of the hearings can be found here.

Each hearing lasts three hours. The Commissioner-designate will make a 15-minute introductory statement, which will be followed by questions from MEPs. There will be 25 questions altogether: one minute per question, followed by a three-minute answer from the Commissioner-designate and a possible follow-up question from the MEP.

If the portfolio of a Commissioner-designate falls entirely within the remit of one parliamentary committee, only that committee will be involved in the hearing (committee responsible). Hearings may, however, involve more than one parliamentary committee. In that case, he/she shall be heard jointly by those committees (joint committees) or by associated committees with overlapping competences.

Evaluation of the hearings

The Chair and group representatives (coordinators) of the committees concerned will meet straight after the hearings (or the next morning if the hearings take place in the evening) to evaluate the performance of the Commissioner-designate in question.

Within 24 hours of completing the evaluation, coordinators will send a confidential letter of recommendation to the Conference of Committee Chairs, stating whether a candidate is qualified both to be Member of the College of Commissioners and to carry out the assigned duties.

Committee coordinators may reach consensus to recommend a Commissioner-designate for approval by plenary. If opinions diverge, the backing of coordinators representing at least two-thirds of the committee membership is necessary.

If coordinators cannot reach a two-thirds majority, they shall first request additional information through further written questions. If they are still dissatisfied, they shall resume the hearing (up to 1.5 hours and subject to the approval of the Conference of Presidents) to clarify outstanding issues.

Then, coordinators will either approve the Commissioner-designate by at least a two-thirds majority or if they fail to do so, the chair will convene a committee meeting and hold a secret vote on the candidate’s suitability, requiring only a simple majority to be recommended for approval.

Outcome and closing of all hearings

On 15 October, the Conference of Committee Chairs will assess the outcome of all hearings and forward its conclusions to the Conference of Presidents. The latter will conduct the final evaluation and declare the hearings closed on 17 October, after having analysed the evaluation letters from the committees in charge and the recommendation of the Conference of Committee Chairs. The Conference of Presidents also authorises the publication of the letters of evaluation, which are then published at the same time.

Plenary vote on 23 October

After the hearings have been concluded, the Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen will present the full College of Commissioners and its programme in plenary.

Her statement will be followed by a debate, and any political group or at least one-twentieth of Members of Parliament (low threshold) may table a motion for a resolution.

The full Commission needs the consent of Parliament (by a majority of the votes cast).

The vote (by roll call) is set to take place on 23 October. Once elected by Parliament, the Commission is formally appointed by the European Council, acting by a qualified majority.

Audiovisual services and webstreaming

All hearings are public and can be followed live. You can watch them on EP Live here.

Parliament’s Multimedia Centre will provide HD quality videos, high-resolution photos and audio material (grouped by hearing in “media packages”)

HD quality videos can be downloaded within 30 minutes of the start of the hearings (live replays) and a selection of high-quality photos will be available for download.

A new media work area (passerelle Karamanlis) is available with connectivity for live broadcasting through your own means. All requests for a spot must be addressed to avplanning@europarl.europa.eu

There will be an area for camera crews and photographers at the back of each room where a live broadcast signal will be available.

Meeting rooms and listening rooms

The last row in the rooms where the hearings will take place will be reserved for the media. However, seats cannot be reserved individually in advance and will be attributed inside the room on a first-come, first-served basis. Journalists are strongly advised to arrive in good time, as places cannot be guaranteed once the hearing has begun. Those wishing to leave the room before the end of the hearing are also invited to do so quietly via the rear exit.

Two listening rooms will be made available to follow the hearings live on big screens, should there be insufficient space in the room itself. Those are: JAN 4Q1 and JAN 6Q2.

Accreditation and access

No special accreditation is necessary during the hearings. Journalists holding an inter-institutional badge or annual badge delivered by the Parliament can enter Parliament’s premises as they always do.

The entrance to the JAN building, in which the hearings will take place, will be open until 22.00. Parliament’s main entrance on Rue Wiertz will be open 24/7, as will the parking. The cafeteria in the JAN building will also be open until 22.30 for refreshments.

For direct access to the hearings, you are advised to use the JAN entrance. Alternatively, Parliament’s entrance for press/visitors in the PHS building will be open throughout the week with a dedicated channel for representatives of the media.

Those who do not have a badge need to request short-term accreditation through Parliament’s registration website, and collect their badges at the press accreditation office PHS-1C029 in Brussels (Paul-Henri Spaak building, Rue Wiertz, press entrance).

Opening hours of the accreditation office during the hearings period:

Monday 30 September – Thursday 3 October 08:30 – 19:30

Friday 4 October 08.30 – 13.00

Monday 7 October: 08.30 -17.45

Tuesday 8 October: 08.30 -19.30