Jourová approved for European commissioner post

Věra Jourová, photo: CTK

Věra Jourová has been approved for the post of European commissioner for justice, consumer rights and gender equality by four European parliamentary committees. Her acceptance, though, was hardly a walk in the park. In her original confirmation hearing, the nominee proved less than convincing and was asked to provide additional answers. For a time, it looked like she might have to appear in person again. Tuesday, however, saw the committees finally reach agreement.

Věra Jourová,  photo: CTK
In the Czech Republic, Věra Jourová had the reputation of being a highly capable minister for regional development. That in no way ensured that her path to the European Commission would be smooth. Originally, Jourová had gunned for the post of regional policy; then, there was speculation she would be tapped for the post of transport and space. When she was chosen to head justice, consumer rights and gender equality, the news was received with disappointment. Now, there is a measure of relief that she remained in the running at all.

For a time on Tuesday, it appeared the candidate would have to meet in person with committee members again, who after some 70 questions and answers appeared still unconvinced, at least on some points. Euro MP Timothy Kirkhope told Czech TV this:

“We thought it was a good idea that maybe she could come back and talk to an informal group of coordinators, not the whole committee or anything, just to clarify one or two things.”

Bohuslav Sobotka,  photo: Filip Jandourek
Fortunately for the Czech nominee that proved unnecessary in the end and many on the Czech political scene including the prime minister must have felt deeply relieved. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka:

“The European Parliament can be tough and every year there is a candidate who draws the short end of the stick. I am very glad that didn’t happen to the Czech nominee.”

Others, such as the head of ANO, Finance Minister Andrej Babiš, suggested Ms Jourová’s nomination may have suffered in unspecified backroom dealings:

“Even the European Parliament is politicised and I think she may have been the victim of certain agreements.”

Now Ms Jourová has received congratulations, but members of the opposition continue to have reservations over the commissioner post itself, charging that the justice dossier is a weak one compared to others the nominee had hoped for or sought. They wasted no time in criticising the centre-left government for failing to ‘negotiate’ a more important portfolio. Petr Fiala is the head of the right-of-centre Civic Democrats:

Petr Fiala,  photo: Filip Jandourek
“After a weak performance we retained a very weak portfolio which reflects badly on the current government and its foreign policy.”

Others, such as the president, have said that such criticism should now be put to rest, presumably so that the incoming commissioner can enjoy as much support as possible in her new job. Once the commission is approved as a whole, Věra Jourová will be the fourth Czech - and first Czech woman - to hold an EU commissioner post.