Updated | Helena Dalli cleared over personal finances as MEPs block two nominees

The European Parliament’s legal affairs committee cleared the Maltese commissioner-designate of any conflict of interest but has rejected the nominations from Romania and Hungary

Helena Dalli has been cleared of any conflict of interest by MEPs scrutinising the financial interests of commissioner-designates
Helena Dalli has been cleared of any conflict of interest by MEPs scrutinising the financial interests of commissioner-designates

Updated at 3.30pm with rejection of Romanian and Hungarian candidates

Maltese commissioner-designate Helena Dalli has been cleared by the European Parliament’s legal affairs committee that scrutinised asset declarations for any potential conflicts of interest.

The scrutiny is a first step before commissioner-designates are subjected to a grilling process by MEPs next week.

Sources in Brussels said Dalli was cleared for any potential conflicts of interest. “Her equality portfolio is not really one where there could be conflicts of interest and so her clearance was pretty much a foregone conclusion but MEPs have raised questions on the finances of other candidates,” the sources said.

Not all commissioner-designates had it as easy. MEPs sent supplementary questions to several commissioner-designates over declarations that raised red flags.

Two nominees  - Romania's Rovana Plumb and Hungary's László Trócsány - were required to meet MEPs on the legal affairs committee today, to answer questions in a face-to-face encounter.

However, MEPs remained unconvinced by their explanations and both nominations were rejected in an unprecedented move.

Plumb, slated to get the transport portfolio was asked to explain why she did not declare two loans worth almost €1 million to the parliament.

One of the loans was for a real estate purchase and the other for a political donation to her Social Democratic Party.

Trócsányi, who will be responsible for the neighbourhood and enlargement portfolio, was asked about a law firm he founded in 1991. Trócsányi is a former justice minister under Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

Unless the commissioner-designates get approval from the legal affairs committee, next week's confirmation hearings cannot go ahead.

The ball is now in European Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen's court to determine a way forward.

A Brussels source said the rejection of the two candidates represented "uncharted waters" for MEPs and von der Leyen.

The official hearings of Ursula von der Leyen's team are scheduled to take place between 30 September and 8 October, with the new Commission expected to take office on 1 November.

MEPs will have to vote for the entire team of commissioners.

Dalli’s grilling will take place on 2 October.

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