The Employment and Social Affairs and the Economic and Monetary Affairs committees questioned Valdis Dombrovskis, Latvian candidate for An Economy that Works for People portfolio. MEPs from the Budgetary Affairs Committee also participated in the hearing.
Political groups’ coordinators from the committees will meet at 12:30 today to assess the performance of Vice President-designate Dombrovskis.
Sustainable and inclusive growth
During his introductory speech, Mr Dombrovskis stressed that the EU must be able to leverage its economic and political weight and act independently. It therefore needs a solid financial footing and must lead on green and digital transformation. Changes can only succeed if they are socially fair, he added. He announced that he will present an action plan to ensure the European Pillar of Social Rights is effectively implemented, accompanied by a proposal for a framework for minimum wages.
MEPs wanted to know whether Mr Dombrovskis intends to work on preserving specificities in the EU economy and the banking sectors, while adhering to international rules such as Basel III. They also asked about the Sustainable Development Goals and binding targets for the EU green transition and wanted to know how he plans to address the current economic slowdown and complete outstanding projects such as the Capital Markets Union and the Banking Union, including the pan-European insurance of retail deposits.
Members also asked about fair taxation, corporate country by country reporting and efficient implementation of the anti-money laundering rules. MEPs raised the issues of crypto currencies such as Facebook’s Libra and balancing opportunities and threats brought about by the FinTech industry.
Later in the hearing, MEPs stressed the importance of social dialogue for a well-functioning, flexible labour market and asked Dombrovskis how he will ensure that social partners are involved. Members also questioned him on the challenges of digitalisation, how to reduce the digital divide, increase digital skills and how to improve platform workers’ labour conditions, while ensuring the economic value of the sector.
Members put forward several questions on how the European Pillar of Social Rights can be implemented to ensure equal opportunities for all in a fair and accessible labour market. Dombrovskis said proposals will soon be presented on a fair EU minimum wage, a European child guarantee, EU unemployment reinsurance scheme, an updated skills agenda and an EU Gender Equality Strategy with binding pay transparency measures.
EPP: Solid performance by Dombrovskis paves way to approval
“There is no question that Valdis Dombrovskis is the right man in the right place. He is a competent, experienced and extremely qualified candidate to become Executive Vice-President to protect our social market economy, make the Euro stronger and better protect Europe against future financial and economic instability,” said Vice-Chairwoman of the EPP Group Esther de Lange MEP.
“During the hearing, he showed a combination of profound political experience and expertise in areas that will be crucial for the success of Europe. “Furthermore, with his leading role in the European Commission, we are not only talking about bridging the divide between East and West, we are putting it into practice by ensuring a geographical balance between the three Executive Vice-Presidents. He has been an exemplary Baltic leader and will be a strong Executive Vice-President”, De Lange added.
As Executive Vice-President, he will also be responsible for Europe’s industrial and SME policy, a key priority for the EPP Group.
“Industry in Europe feels threatened by extreme green policies. SMEs lack access to appropriate financing. They are asking themselves if Europe still has a future for them. We need to work with them to generate jobs for current and future generations and reach our climate goals,” De Lange concluded.
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.