The European Parliament has the
responsibility of approving all nominations to the European
Commission. It is one of the Parliament’s few real powers – one they famously used to veto Italy’s nomination of Rocco Buttiglione.
There is some debate within the Conservative Party about what to do
about Gordon Brown’s nomination of Baroness Ashton to replace Peter
Mandelson as EU Trade Commissioner.
Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague leans to the view that the vacancy needs to be filled as soon as possible and that it is important that Britain retains the post. He fears a long, drawn-out confirmation process could damage UK interests.
On the other side of the debate a number of Tory MEPs – and the wider European People’s Party – have serious doubts as to the suitability of the current Leader of the House of Lords for the post. One MEP told ConHome that suspicions have intensified after she pulled out of a press conference at which she was to be questioned on her views on trade issues.
But if Tories are worried about Baroness Ashton it could be worse. Dan Hamilton (who has previously asked if Ashton is even eligible for the position) notes that Ken Livingstone is in the frame for the future.