MEPs grill Belgium’s Commission candidate Didier Reynders

It is D-Day for the candidates put forward by their respective countries for the new European Commission, among them Didier Reynders. The Belgian Francophone liberal politician that has been a Minister in the Federal Government for the past two decades hopes to gain the backing of MEPs to become the new European Justice Commissioner in the European Commission led by Ursula von der Leyen that will take office on 1 November.      

After questioning a select committee of MEPs will decide whether Mr Reynders and the other candidate commissioners are up to the job?    

Last week an investigation into alleged corruption by Reynders was aborted due to lack of evidence. However, on Monday it was disclosed that a former officer of the State Security Service had lodged a complaint against Mr Reynders for allegedly having threatened to kill him.

He opened his speech before MEPs by saying that “everyone can be exposed to a malicious attack”. However, he added that no one should have to go through what he and his family have gone through over the past weeks.  

Mr Reynders added that if he is confirmed as the new Justice Commissioner he will be responsible for making sure that the principles of law are applied in all EU members state “this also implies the presumption of innocence until guilt is proven”.   

Mr Reynders confirmed that procedures have already been started against Hungary and Poland. These could lead to the Polish and Hungarian governments losing their voting rights at European Councils of Ministers.    

Furthermore he hopes that the EU member states and the European Parliament can agree on a mechanism to impose financial sanctions on countries that contravene the principles of constitutional democracy.    

Mr Reynders appeared to fare well as he face a barrage of questions. He should know whether he has been given the European Parliament’s blessing to become the new Justice Commissioner later on Wednesday afternoon.