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Nov 15, 2019

Olivér Várhelyi questioned at EP commissioner hearing

Olivér Várhelyi's only objective is “to represent the European Union’s political priorities towards our enlargement and neighborhood partners and to work in a genuine European spirit in the Western Balkans, as well as in the relationship with our Eastern and Southern neighbors.”

Hungary’s nominee for European commissioner, Olivér Várhelyi had a preparatory question session for the European Parliament’s professional hearing on Thursday.

According to MTI, Várhelyi said that as EU Commissioner, his only objective is “to represent the European Union’s political priorities towards our enlargement and neighborhood partners and to work in a genuine European spirit in the Western Balkans, as well as in the relationship with our Eastern and Southern neighbors.”

Várhelyi also pledged to be independent of the Orbán government. The commissioner designate was asked by MEPs about his relationship with the prime minister. Várhelyi has repeatedly stated that he will work completely independently and will not accept instructions from anywhere, saying that he only “will carry on in line with EU principles, I will not accept any governmental voice in my portfolio.”

The commissioner designate said that as proof of his independence he previously served four years as Head of Unit at the European Commission, with complete independence. He added that he represents the European Commission and implements the decisions. Várhelyi said he had to represent the EU as a commissioner, and cannot accept instructions from any government.

The commissioner candidate for enlargement and neighborhood policy told the foreign affairs committee that serving in his post he would seek to act as a link between the main European institutions and neighboring countries, adding that national and European interests need not be considered separately because the common aim is to create a strong and successful community. Different targets and approaches are needed for the various partner countries and it is not possible to apply a standard scheme, Várhelyi added.

Among migration-related measures, he underlined the importance of quelling illegal migration, eradicating human-smuggling rings, supporting border defense, and increasing the number of illegal migrant repatriations. Várhelyi said it was important to facilitate a voluntary and safe return of refugees to Syria once conditions are apt. Humanitarian conditions in Libya also need to be improved, he said, adding that Europe needs allies such as the United States in its stabilization efforts.

Várhelyi summarized his plans in four points. Accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania should be opened with a clear perspective; continue the structural reforms in the Eastern Partnership with a view to strengthening the economic situation; cooperation with southern neighbors should be based on a ‘more for more’ principle, and concentrate more on investments by using neighborhood policy.

Photo credit: Népszava