Brussels, 14 Oct 2004
Members of the European Parliament's Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) committee have delivered a positive verdict following the hearings of Janez Potocnik and Günter Verheugen, Commissioners-designate for Science and Research and Enterprise and Industry respectively.
In letters sent to the President of the European Parliament, Josep Borrell, the chair of the ITRE committee, Giles Chichester, said that members 'unanimously' considered both men to possess the required personal and professional skills to manage their proposed portfolios.
In the case of Mr Potocnik, the committee concluded that: 'The nominee was perceived as honest, sensitive to the human factor, with excellent communication skills, knowledgeable and well prepared, but also willing to listen and discuss possible points of disagreement.'
The Slovenian Commissioner-designate drew praise for his appreciation of the role of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in research, as well as his comments in favour of basic science, simplification of procedures and stimulation of Europe's research potential.
'The clear manifestation of his political will in favour of doubling the EU research budget [...] was very positively received. Equally appreciated was his openness to dialogue with the Parliament and his willingness to admit shortcomings in the current Framework Programme and initiate the necessary reforms,' continued the assessment.
It appears from Mr Chichester's letter that any concerns the committee might have had about Mr Potocnik's nomination were quickly dismissed: 'Although he was new to the field of research, his balanced approach and open-mindedness left no doubt that he would be in complete control of his area of competence. One large political group perceived a relative weakness in his visions for the future but expressed confidence that this would be overcome as he worked himself into his new tasks.'
The performance of Mr Verheugen, meanwhile, was described by MEPs as 'polished', and they expressed appreciation for his commitment to dialogue, his determination to improve legislation and his ability to make a convincing case for Europe.
In a positive sign - considering the cross-cutting nature of Mr Verheugen's competitiveness-oriented portfolio - the committee recognised his capability of dealing with both horizontal and specific issues. However, 'some disappointment' was expressed at his lack of response on concrete examples of his coordinating role, for example for industry, research and energy policies.
Having openly endorsed the nominations of Mr Potocnik and Mr Verheugen, the response of the ITRE committee to the hearing of Viviane Reding, Commissioner-designate for Information Society and Media, was less enthusiastic.
While MEPs unanimously expressed their appreciation for Ms Reding's skills in the field of media policy and her commitment to cooperation with the Parliament, they noted that 'a deeper technical knowledge of electronic communications and Information Society related matters would have been expected [...].'
Parliament will vote on whether or not to approve the Barroso Commission at a plenary session at the end of October, though it can only opt to reject the entire team and not individual Commissioners-designate.
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