In a three-hour hearing in front of Parliament’s Constitutional Affairs Committee (AFCO) Šuica made clear that she saw her priority as reaching out to all Europeans and making citizen participation in EU policy making as accessible as possible.
“We need to engage with Europeans across our Union, to listen to their hopes, expectations and their concerns,” Šuica told the committee.
Commenting on her performance, Polish EPP MEP Danuta Hubner, former chair of the constitutional affairs committee, told this website, “I think Dubravka Šuica is the right person because she not only knows with her brain what democracy is about but she also feels democracy.”
“She can be very convincing in reaching out to people and making people feel they have an impact on the future of Europe.”
Šuica also emphasised the need to work closely with civil society in building citizens’ participation and trust in European democracy.
Referring to a letter sent to her before the hearing by the campaign group, European Civic Forum, the Commissioner-designate said, “I received a letter, which had a hundred signatures, a hundred different NGOs who want to be included, they are interested. I met some of them a few days ago, so they will be included. Civil society is very important and I won’t abstain from this.”
Further comment on the hearing came from Bent Nørby Bonde, secretary general of the Europe’s People’s Forum, an NGO which organises citizens assemblies to strengthen democratic participation in European policymaking.
“I think Dubravka Šuica is the right person because she not only knows with her brain what democracy is about but she also feels democracy” Danuta Hubner MEP
Speaking on Monday, he told The Parliament Magazine, “The commitment to true citizens’ engagement and influence on European policies appears to be very strong and we are encouraged by this.”
Roger Casale, founder and CEO of New Europeans and a Vice-President of European Civic Forum (ECF), added, “NGOS and civil society organisations have tried and tested ways to ensure the widest possible and most effective participation by citizens.”
“We look forward to sharing these with the new commissioner and working together to make the Future of Europe conference a success.”
Elsewhere, question marks still hang over the nominees from Poland, Sweden and France - Janusz Wojciechowski, Ylva Johansson and Sylvie Goulard respectively – who have been asked to provide further written replies after their “unsatisfactory” hearings last week.
A replacement candidate will also be needed from the Romanian government after its nominee was rejected by the legal affairs committee before the hearings started.
Hungary has already put forward a replacement after its nominee was also rejected over an alleged conflict of interest.
At a news briefing in Parliament on Monday, a spokesman for the assembly said, “The nominees who did not satisfy the coordinators in the first round have had more questions sent to them in the last week. They have been given until later this week to reply to these questions.”
He added, “There is the possibility of second hearings for these nominees this week although 17 October is still the date fixed for the Conference of Presidents to meet. This is when they are due to close the nomination process.”
He told reporters, “This is a complicated process but hopefully we will get through.”