Public hearings for new commissioners begin

From today until January 19th, the European Parliament will hold a series of public hearings with the 26 candidate Commissioners put forward by the Council and Commission President José-Manuel Barroso.

During the next days, the "Commissioners-designate" will face three hours of questioning by MEPs sitting on the committees relevant to their proposed portfolios.  They will be evaluated on their specific knowledge and competence in their field, including their European commitment, their independence and their communication skills.

Parliament is scheduled to hold its final vote on Mr Barroso's new team on 26 January at a special plenary session in Brussels. It can only approve or reject the new Commission as a whole. Mr Barroso's nomination for a second term as Commission President was approved by Parliament earlier, on 16 September 2009.

Member states presented their nominees to be commissioner in November, and Barroso announced the portfolios responsibilities of the members of the College in the same month.

Parliament has set up a website with full details of the procedures involved, the timetable and location for the different hearings and for subsequent steps in the procedure.

Today it is the moment for Januz Lewandowski, Catherine Ashton, Olli Rehn and Andris Piebalgs.