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Europe

EU Parliament Quizzes New Commissioners

The 10 nominee commissioners from the new member states will undergo a tough grilling by European parliamentarians this week in preparation for the start of their term on May 1.

Each of the new EU commissioners will go through a hearing of over an hour and a quarter by members of parliament (MEPs) to determine their commitment, qualifications and plans for the job which sees them as 'trainee commissioners' until end of October. Running from Tuesday to Thursday, the hearings likely to attract most media attention are those of Estonia's Siim Kallas and the Czech Republic's Pavel Telicka. A former prime minister and finance minister of the small Baltic state, Kallas was a member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1972 to 1990 while Telicka was a member of the communist party before the fall of communism in the former Czechoslovakia in 1989. Telicka's case is compounded by the fact that he did not have full support by the coalition government for his nomination. The issue came to the headlines in February when the European People's Party (EPP) passed a resolution calling on those looking for political posts in the EU to "disclose their professional and political activities in former communist states." After this week's hearing, the European Parliament as a whole will vote on whether to approve the new enlarged Commission on May 5. This interim commission, with 30 members, will be in place until the end of October. From 1 November, the number will sink to 25 again as France, the UK, Germany, Spain and Italy each give up their right to a second commissioner. (EUobserver.com)

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