Analysis of Lord Hill's and Cecilia Malmström's confirmation hearings

New European Commissioners covering the Trade and Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Unions portfolios will enter office on 1 November 2014. This note provides an analysis of the hearings at the European Parliament and a summary of the key issues that were discussed.

Topics that TheCityUK has raised with policymakers are now at the top of the agenda for the European Commission and European Parliament. This is a defining moment for the financial and related professional services industry, as the Commission for 2014-2019 will help to determine the success or failure of initiatives such as Banking Union and the ambitious trade policy agenda, including the EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), as well as provide the substance of a Capital Markets Union (CMU).

For nearly twenty years, Commissioners-designate have appeared before the European Parliament to be assessed by the committees that deal with their respective portfolios. Cecilia Malmström’s hearing as Commissioner-designate for Trade was held on Monday 29 September 2014, and Lord Hill’s hearing as Commissionerdesignate for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union on 1 October 2014. Both candidates faced challenging questions from the Committee on International Trade
(INTA) and the Economic and Monetary Committee (ECON).

As the current Home Affairs Commissioner, this was the second hearing for Cecilia Malmström. Much attention was focused on her hearing because of the controversy around the Canada and EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) as well TTIP.

Lord Hill on the other hand, who was nominated to take charge of the newly created Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union portfolio, is relatively new to Brussels and European politics. In the run-up to his hearing, his previous association with the financial services sector and his ability to act in the European interest were questioned by some Members of the European Parliament (MEPs).

Following an intense three hour hearing, Lord Hill has been called back to attend a second confirmation hearing to clarify some technical details which it was felt he did not sufficiently answer during his first hearing. This session should take place early next week on Monday 6 or Tuesday 7 October. If this hearing is public, a further analysis will be provided.

Among his harshest critics was Green MEP Philippe Lamberts, who said of Lord Hill’s performance that it was “Charming but empty”. It was also reported that Sylvie Goulard, French Liberal MEP, suggested he would need to provide more content on his political views outside technical banking issues and must explain how he would deal with key Eurozone issues such as transaction taxes and Eurobonds.