When, after weeks of silence, the new EU Commissioner Ursula von der Leyen presents the members of her new commission to the public, the EU wants to show its best side: cosmopolitan, modern and socially committed, in short as a community that has understood what people expect from her.
However, in the shadow of the presentation, some EU parliamentarians have a very different date soon after, one more likely to reaffirm the less-than-beautiful prejudices against the EU.
The committee chairs in the European Parliament are summoned for Wednesday afternoon to hear two candidates for the post of EU Commissioner for half an hour each. Romanian Ioan Mircea Pascu and Estonian Kadri Simon are to become members of the EU Commission in a simplified procedure – the outgoing commission of Jean-Claude Juncker, mind you.
Especially Pascu would benefit
Although Juncker has urged to refrain from short-term appointments for the few remaining weeks, Estonia and Romania send new commissioners. Juncker knows exactly how this could affect the population: the EU threatens to stand there again as a Raffke shop.
But Pascu and Simon seem determined to take their jobs for a short time before the new commission under President Leyen is due to come into office on November 1st. Because their predecessors were elected to the European Parliament, the posts of the two countries are vacant.
In the case of the Eston Simon, the matter is not so tragic, she should then anyway belong to the new EU Commission.
The Romanian Pascu, however, probably only for a few weeks EU Commissioner. The Social Democrat was recently a MEP. A special responsibility as a commissioner he should not even get. Why, time would not be enough for training.
But the salary slip is correct. Because there are no cuts, short-term commissioner or not. Base salary, surcharges for moving, residence allowance, anything that is, is a short-term commissioner. This is especially true for the pension.
Ioan Mircea Pascu
Pascu, 70, can look forward to the full, lifetime pension of an EU commissioner. That's between 45 and 60 percent of the Commissioner's salary (monthly from around 20,000 euros without allowances). This is the EU rules. All attempts to make the payment of a pension dependent on the term of office have failed in the past.
Now the head of the Committee on Budgetary Control is raising the alarm in the European Parliament. In a letter that leaves nothing to be desired in terms of clarity, Monika Hohlmeier (CSU) vented her displeasure towards Parliament President David Maria Sassoli.
Is Parliament stopping the appeal?
"From the perspective of budgetary control, it has nothing to do with economical financial management, if a vacancy without special responsibility and only for a few weeks should be filled," says the letter Hohlmeiers, which is the SPIEGEL. The cost for each of the commissioners is "1 million euros until the end of the term".
Juncker had already mentioned the number. An appointment of the Commissioners was incompatible with "the financial interests of the EU".
The posts were vacated because some of Juncker's commissioners had run for the European elections and have now joined the European Parliament, including Corina Cretu from Romania and Andrus Ansip from Estonia. "If the heads of state still insist, no citizen would understand that," Juncker said in "Bild am Sonntag" in June.
Now he can only hope that the European Parliament will put a stop to the matter.