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South East MEP Sharon Bowles to grill new Commissioners in January hearings

January 6, 2010 2:50 PM

Lib Dem MEP Sharon Bowles will be in charge of the competency hearings for several of the most important European Commissioners.

Sharon Bowles is Chair the European Parliament's powerful Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee which deals with the work of the three Commissioners that are in charge of handling the financial crisis and economic recovery.

First to be interviewed, on Monday 11th January, will be the proposed Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner, Olli Rehn, who is lined up to handle the portfolio dealing with the EU economy, recovery plans, and getting the EU Member States (including the UK) back within the Stability and Growth Pact.

On Tuesday 12th January, Sharon's Committee will ask questions of proposed Competition Commissioner, Joaquim Almunia, who moves over from the economic portfolio. As well as dealing with cartels and unfair competition, such as the Microsoft and Intel cases recently in the news, the new Commissioner has to oversee the unwinding of state aid to the banking sector. On the same day, Sharon's Committee will also quiz the proposed Tax Commissioner, Algirdas Šemeta, on issues such as transaction taxes and common corporate tax bases.

Lastly, Sharon's Committee will question the proposed Internal Market Commissioner, Michel Barnier, on Wednesday 13th January. Mr Barnier's nomination has been a controversial one; with a complete overhaul of financial regulation on the agenda, many in the City of London have expressed grave concerns for the future of hedge funds and private equity in the UK.

Sharon Bowles said: "The approach of the Commission to include the European Parliament at early stages of proposals and ensuring that proper consultation and impact assessments are done will feature high on the agenda."

"We have had a bad experience recently with the controversial Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive. There is also no formal overall approach to the regulatory overhaul comparable to that which we had for the original Financial Services Action Plan. The new Internal Market Commissioner could be well placed to do this but he will also have to recognise the direct link to the economy of his actions - and indeed we will want to see a collegiate review, especially with the other potential Commissioners Rehn and Almunia."

"In any case, I am looking forward to questions being put to these potential new Commissioners next week. Europe is need of better financial regulation and a supervisory architecture that protects people from systemic risk in the banking sector, among other things. The Hearings next week will be a good opportunity for me and my Committee to ensure that these new Commissioners are up to the job."