Romania’s second pick for the new European Commission, former Interior Minister Dan Nica, has not been approved for the list of hopeful EU commissioners whose fitness for office will be evaluated by the European Parliament before they take up their posts, Romanian media reported on Tuesday evening, quoting sources close to the process.
Nica, who is also an MEP, was Romania’s second candidate after its first option, former minister and MEP Rovana Plumb, was rejected by the European Parliament’s legal affairs commission due to a conflict of interest created by a 170,000-euro loan that Plumb had received in the past.
Plumb had been accepted by Commission president-elect Ursula von der Leyen, who nominated her as the Commissioner for Transport.
Hungary’s proposed candidate, Laszlo Trocsanyi, who was put forward by von der Leyen as the new Enlargement Commissioner, was also found to be immersed in a conflict of interest and declared unfit to hold the office.
Just after Plumb’s rejection on September 30, Romania’s Prime Minister Viorica Dancila came up with Nica as an option to replace Plumb as Bucharest’s representative on the new Commission.
Nica has been investigated for corruption in the past – as has Plumb – and the Romanian centre-right opposition opposed him from the beginning, citing the risk of the former minister being rejected.
Romania’s conservative President Klaus Iohannis concurred. He had asked Dancila and her Social Democratic government in vain to be consulted before they made the second nomination.
Together with Nica, Dancila put forward a second name as an alternative Commission candidate in case the former minister was rejected.
Dancila’s second choice was the secretary of state at Romania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Gabriela Ciot.
According to Romanian media, Ciot was included as alternative option after von der Leyen asked Dancila to propose a woman in order to maintain the gender balance in her list of commissioners.
However, Ciot’s name was not included in the official proposal sent by Dancila to Brussels, Romanian news site G4 Media reported.
Romanian commentators have criticised the government’s inability to come up with a convincing candidate.
Romanian MEP Siegfried Muresan said on Tuesday that von der Leyen “won’t accept any candidate for the position of commissioner from a government immersed in an impeachment procedure”.
Muresan was referring to the motion of no confidence that will be voted upon on Thursday in the Romanian parliament and threatens the survival of Dancila’s government.
The opposition claims to have enough support in the two chambers of parliament for the motion to succeed, but Dancila has expressed confidence that it won’t get the necessary votes.