The Economic and Monetary Affairs committee questioned Paolo Gentiloni, Italian candidate for the economy portfolio. Political groups’ coordinators from the committee will meet within 24 hours to assess the performance of Commissioner-designate Gentiloni. MEPs from the budgetary affairs committee also participated in the hearing.
Stability and Growth Pact, environmental mainstreaming and taxation
During his introductory speech, Mr Gentiloni emphasised that economic growth and the transformation of economies must not go counter to pressing environmental and social priorities. He pledged to focus on reducing public debt, while also encouraging the use of any available fiscal space to invest. Overhauling the taxation framework at EU level would also top the agenda, Mr Gentiloni added.
MEPs were particularly interested in hearing Mr Gentiloni’s intentions regarding the Stability and Growth Pact, some to obtain assurance that he would ensure the rules are applied, others to understand his views on how the Pact could be reformed. Many also raised the need for the Commission to tackle tax evasion and tax havens more appropriately, namely by introducing a minimal corporate tax rate in the EU, widening the list of countries considered as tax havens, and dealing with EU member states that behave like tax havens.
Members also asked for some detail on how the proposal for a European unemployment re-insurance scheme could be fleshed out and what instruments could be considered to better manage anti-cyclical movements. Later in the hearing, MEPs raised the issues of strengthening the social dimension of the European Semester and asked how to make progress in Council on blocked pieces of legislation.
Based on the committee’s 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 Group conditionally approves Gentiloni
After the hearing with the Commissioner-designate for the Economy Paolo Gentiloni, the EPP Group will conditionally approve him to become Commissioner.
“It is clear that Paolo Gentiloni is an experienced politician. Although we regret the vagueness of his answers, we can approve him, all things considered. During the hearing, the EPP Group insisted on the importance of strengthening the Stability and Growth Pact and enforcing it indiscriminately, particularly “when it comes to dealing with Europe’s debt problems and the lack of structural reforms. This is why we were looking for concrete reassurance that he was ready to apply the rules indiscriminately to all countries”, stated Markus Ferber MEP, EPP Group Spokesman on Economic and Monetary Affairs.
“The Commissioner-designate said that he is ready to cooperate with the European Parliament and wants to look for common ground on topics that are crucial for our economies. “Today he will get the benefit of the doubt from the EPP Group”, Ferber concluded.
S&Ds: Gentiloni is the most suitable candidate to be the next EU Commissioner for Economy
Following today’s hearing with the economy, budget and employment committees, Paolo Gentiloni fully satisfied with his answers, explanations and commitments, the Socialists and Democrats Group (S&Ds) in the European Parliament. The S&Ds confirmed their strong support for Paolo Gentiloni, and welcomed the decision of the coordinators to endorse him as the next EU Commissioner for Economy.
“Paolo Gentiloni has the required expertise and experience, and the right mental and political flexibility to perfectly understand the hard times the EU and the European economy are going through. We are confident that, as next Commissioner for Economy, he will be able to ensure a fully flexible application of the Stability and Growth Pact, and to lead the initiative to build a fiscal stabilizer. Furthermore, Gentiloni is clearly aligned with our call to turn the European semester into an instrument that integrates social, environmental, geographic and taxation aspects, as well as the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” commented the S&D ECON committee coordinator, Jonás Fernández.
“Paolo Gentiloni has shown a strong commitment to strengthening the European Monetary Union in using the European Semester for boosting an ambitious social and environmental agenda, as well as fighting tax fraud. The Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament are dedicated to building a new economy that works for all. As always, our priorities are for a better, fairer and more social Europe, and we are happy to support Mr Gentiloni in his ambitious plan for the European economy,” said the S&D vice-president for a new economy that works for all, Biljana Borzan.