The Constitutional Affairs Committee quizzed Croatian Dubravka Šuica, Vice President-designate for Democracy and Demography. Members of the associated Employment and Social Affairs and Women’s Rights and Gender Equality committees also participated in the hearing.

Political groups’ coordinators from the committee will meet within 24 hours to assess the performance of Vice President-designate Dubravka Šuica.

Citizens’ participation in EU democracy and demographic change

In her introductory speech, Ms Šuica committed to improve citizens’ participation in EU democracy and to address Europe’s demographic change, which she sees as “a root cause of some people losing faith in our democracy”. The Vice President-designate committed to dedicate herself fully to the organisation of a Conference on the Future of Europe in 2020.

MEPs from the Constitutional Affairs Committee highlighted the need for local authorities and national parliaments to be more closely involved in the Conference. She responded that the institutional set-up of the EU would be discussed with the EP, including the ‘Spitzenkandidaten’ system and transnational electoral lists. She also said she would support the EP’s right of initiative.

MEPs also put forward several questions on migration as well as minorities’ and women’s rights. They reminded Ms Šuica, who has been an MEP for several years, about her vote against an EP resolution calling for greater sexual and reproductive health and rights as well as another one asking to apply the Article 7 procedure to Hungary.

Based on the committees’ recommendations, the Conference of Presidents will decide on 17 October if Parliament has received sufficient information to declare the hearing process closed. If so, the plenary will vote on whether or not to elect the Commission as a whole on 23 October, in Strasbourg.

EPP: Šuica will make an excellent EU Commissioner

“We believe that Dubravka Šuica will make an excellent EU Commissioner for Democracy and Demography,” said Danuta Hübner, EPP Group Coordinator in the Committee on Constitutional Affairs.

“Today, Ms Šuica has proven herself to be the right candidate. She delivered clear answers to our questions. I am looking forward to working with her on a conference on the Future of Europe, as it will be vital in engaging citizens in the common European project,” Danuta Hübner continued.

“I am convinced that Commissioner-designate Šuica will give this new portfolio an important and meaningful interpretation. We are encouraged by her strong commitment to democracy and applaud her plan to work closely with the European Parliament,” concluded Hübner.

We will push Šuica to ensure that people are fully involved in the debate on the future of Europe, say S&Ds

Following the hearing of Commission vice-president designate Dubravka Šuica, S&D group has decided to give its support to the Croatian candidate for the portfolio of Democracy and Demography.

“We will, however, be keeping a close eye, to make sure that the promises she has put forward at the hearing are followed through. Institutional reforms are crucial for the well-functioning of the EU,” say S&Ds.

“We cannot continue with ‘business as usual’. The EU needs strong, progressive, institutional reform. Ms Šuica will have to deliver on her promises, keeping in mind that the citizens of Europe have voted this year in large numbers, giving us a strong mandate to work forward on policies for the many. We will not let them down and we expect nothing less of the new structure of the Commission,” stated Domènec Ruiz Devesa, S&D coordinator in the constitutional affairs committee.

“One thing is clear – the European Parliament, the only EU institution elected by the people, needs to be involved at all times in all initiatives that are addressed to European citizens. The Conference on the Future of Europe is a crucial tool that could help us promote our policies. This is why we will make sure civil society, stakeholders and social partners are consulted every step of the way,” said  Claude Moraes, S&D vice-president for resilient democracies and fundamental rights.

“When facing the new challenges, Europe needs to stand united and work with the same progressive vision. We expect Commission vice-president designate Dubravka Šuica to share this progressive vision when it comes to societal changes, social protection, improvement or rural areas, work-life balance, the Child Guarantee and gender equality and empowerment. We will be watching closely!” added Heléne Fritzon, S&D Group vice-president for a new social Europe of equality, cohesion and strong rights.