Brussels, 05 Oct 2004
Two of the leading political groups in the European Parliament have signalled their support for the confirmation of Commissioner-designate Janez Potocnik to the Science and Research portfolio, following his hearing on 1 October.
Mr Potocnik had set out his vision for EU research to MEPs in the Parliament's Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) Committee, before fielding questions from individual members on a range of specific policy areas.
'Commissioner designate Potocnik was confident and highly informed. He spoke with a degree of energy and commitment that suggests that he will bring real political leadership and a genuine capacity for innovation to this important area of European policy. He delivered one of the best hearings so far,' was the verdict of Graham Watson, leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) group.
Mr Watson continued: 'He set out a clear strategy for relaunching the Lisbon Agenda, of which he regards research and development policy as a core part. [...] I welcomed Mr Potocnik's clear reiteration of the [Barcelona] goal of applying 3 per cent of EU GDP to research. He was also right to call for a doubling of the European budget for science and research.'
Meanwhile, Hannes Swoboda and Reino Paasilinna, vice-president and research coordinator of the Socialist Group in the European Parliament (PSE) respectively, said in a joint statement: 'Mr Potocnik has shown himself to be a capable nominee for the Commission's top research post. He has committed himself to furthering the Lisbon Process, to sustainability and to social inclusion - all of direct relevance to the Socialist Group and to his future role.'
Adding something of a caveat, the MEPs continued: 'Mr Potocnik may lack detailed knowledge of the job in front of him and a greater, global vision of his role will be needed.' However, the statement concluded: '[I]t is clear that he has done his homework and we will be recommending his nomination to the Socialist Group.'
Once all the hearings are completed, a conference of Parliamentary committee chairs will make an overall assessment of the Commissioners-designate. Parliament's plenary will then vote on whether to approve the new Commission as a whole during a Strasbourg plenary session at the end of October.
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