"If you control your arrogance, it will pass", a high European official predicted minutes before the start of the three-hour hearing that the Eurocamara submitted to Josep Borrell, one of the last of the team of commissioners of Ursula Von der Leyen. A forecast that was 100% fulfilled. The acting Foreign Minister dominated his temper during the three hours of the appearance, exhibited a thorough knowledge of all the issues in his portfolio and won several times the applause of MEPs.
Borrell's good performance has resulted in a broad support for his candidacy in the European Parliament. In a closed meeting on Tuesday, the Foreign Affairs Committee has given the green light to his appointment as EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy and vice-president of the European Commission, a position for which he was appointed by the European leaders on July 2.
He has only voted against Borrell Identity and Democracy, the far right group of Marine Le Pen and Matteo Salvini, according to parliamentary sources. I needed a two-thirds majority to be confirmed. If there are no stumbling blocks in the investiture calendar of the Von der Leyen school, will begin to exercise his new position of head of EU diplomacy on November 1. Moment in which you must leave the Government of Pedro Sánchez.
The final investiture vote of the Von der Leyen Commission as a whole is scheduled for October 23 in Strasbourg, but it is not clear that the calendar can be fulfilled. The oral exams to the candidates, which conclude this Tuesday, have been much more bloody than anyone had anticipated.
The Eurocamara has knocked down the commissioners appointed by Hungary and Romania, for which there are no substitutes yet. The applicant from France is on a tightrope, although she will surely be given the opportunity to repeat the oral exam. The candidates from Poland and Sweden did not pass the first hearing, but they have approved in recovery.
An easy exam
In Borrell's case, the parliamentarians had put him an easy exam. Facing the hardness they exhibited against Sylvie Goulard, the candidate for commissioner of the French president, Emmanuel Macron, for doubts about her personal integrity, with Borrell they have not wanted to make blood.
He has hardly been asked a couple of times for his most controversial episode: the fine of 30,000 euros imposed last year by the CNMV for abuse of privileged information for having sold shares of Abengoa, a company of which he was a director, just before The company will request creditors' pre-contest.
"I have always rejected the use of inside information", the Foreign Minister has told MEPs, who only recognizes that the operation took place" at an inappropriate time. "According to his version, he only sold 7% of his portfolio (actually his ex-wife) worth 9,000 euros and kept the remaining 93%, which ended up losing 300,000 euros. "If I had inside information, I was stupid," he said.
He has also assured that he is willing to sell his shares in Iberdrola, Bayer or BBVA If the Eurocamara asks you to do it. And that despite the fact that the Legal Affairs Committee has ruled that it is not necessary. "I don't think it's any problem, but if you are so worried, tomorrow I will give order to sell"said Borrell.
The EU must use the language of power
MEPs have barely gotten into their most controversial statements as Foreign Minister. They have only asked for explanations for the occasion on which he said that "The United States has very little history behind. They were born to independence with virtually no history, all they had done was kill four Indians"." It was an unfortunate expression. I wanted to say that the United States of Europe will never be like the US because we have a history of too much confrontation between us, "he has excused himself.
The foreign minister has barely left a couple of questions unanswered. One of them referred to whether Edward Snowden, The former National Security Agency contractor who in 2013 leaked secret documents on US telephone and internet surveillance should receive political asylum in the EU. Borrell has declared himself unable to respond.
In a very political initial intervention, Borrell has promised to strengthen the EU's foreign policy in order to survive "in a world that has changed dramatically for the worse, for much worse"There is no certainty about the international role of the United States, we have new threats from the east (in reference to Russia) and China is both a systemic rival and a cooperation partner," warns the future head of community diplomacy .
In this context of global instability, "the EU must learn to use the language of power." "We often say that multilateralism is in our DNA, but we cannot be multilateral alone. And many of our partners are disregarding and others apply the rules selectively, "Borrell said." If we don't act together, the EU will be irrelevant in the new world, "he insisted.
The future head of European diplomacy has opted to "restart relations with the United States" and maintain sanctions against Russia but at the same time open channels for dialogue. Further, He has opposed imposing economic sanctions on Venezuela "They can hit a people harder on the brink of exhaustion and misery." And he has argued that the EU maintains contact with the Cuban regime because "the isolation measures we already know have not led to anything."
In an unexpected blow of effect, Borrell has announced that his first trip when confirmed as High Representative will be to Pristina, a capital that has never visited because Spain does not recognize Kosovo as an independent State. "The recognition of Kosovo is a competence of the Member States. But Kosovo and Serbia have to reach an agreement and I will do my best to meet that priority," he said.
He won't talk about Catalonia
Of course, the Foreign Minister, to which the Catalan independentistas they consider a black beast to dismantle their secessionist story, has said that in his new role He will no longer pronounce himself in public about the situation in Catalonia because he is not part of his powers. "I will not say anything about the internal problem of a country, even if it is mine", he has argued. Moreover, the campaign that the secessionists had announced to block Borrell has failed miserably: hardly a question about Catalonia in the three hours that the Eurocamara hearing lasted.
Despite this, the Spanish PP have not liked Borrell's evasions about the Catalan crisis at all. "It has been disappointing that Borrell has lost the opportunity to defend the rule of law of Spain in Europe, to defend the unity of Spain. He did not want to enter to value anything on the Catalan issue," complained the head of the delegation, Dolors Montserrat.
Even with Montserrat's doubts, the European PP has supported Borrell. "I am not going to prejudge a decision but I have to say: well done, very well," said the president of the Foreign Commission, the popular David McAllister, as soon as he finished the exam.
"One conclusion that everyone can draw from this audience is that the experience shows", says the spokesman of the Greens, Reinhard Bütikofer." He is a solvent person, "said the representative of Citizens, José Ramón Bauzá. Borrell has even won the support of Vox: "He may have many flaws but he is a complete man," said Hermann Tertsch.