Olli Rehn comes under criticism in European Parliament
Socialist MEPs most vocal critics
Olli Rehn, the Finnish nominee for the position of European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, came under heavy fire in the European Parliament on Thursday.
Rehn, who is affiliated with the Liberal group in the Parliament, was sharply criticised by members of the Socialist group.
Socialist group deputy chair Hannes Swoboda said that Rehn was one of the weakest candidates for the Commission.
Swoboda, an Austrian, said that he was surprised that Rehn’s performance at Monday’s hearing was weak, in spite of the fact that unlike many of the nominees, he is an experienced commissioner.
Already at his hearing before the Committee for Economic and Monetary Affairs, some expressed disappointment with Rehn’s cautious attitude. However, the overall tone after the hearing was fairly positive.
Joining Rehn’s critics on Thursday was Sharon Bowles, the chair of the Committee for Economic and Monetary Affairs, who is also a member of the Liberal group.
According to Reuters, Bowles felt that Rehn was too vague in his answers.
Bowles’s office said on Thursday that she is not ruling out the possibility that Rehn might be asked to appear before the committee again.
Socialist MEP Liisa Jaakonsaari from Finland says that Rehn’s problem at the hearing was that he kept repeating politically correct cliches.
“There was a feeling of disappointment, because one would expect more from the Economic Commissioner. But Rehn will pass his grade, although not with the highest marks”, Jaakonsaari said on Thursday.
The sharper criticism is an indication that the hearings of the Commission candidates have become more politically partisan.
“Rehn has become a political pawn. Criticism of Rehn did not emerge until a couple of days after the hearing. The Parliament is tired of the fact that the candidates are not actually saying anything”, said Finnish Conservative MEP Ville Itälä on Thursday.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Rehn gets gentle grilling in European Parliament (12.1.2010)