The incoming European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, has rejected Romania’s second nomination for the EU Commissioner, Dan Nica, sparing him from appearing before the European Parliament committee where he would have had to answer questions about previous corruption allegations.
Dan Nica was Romania’s second proposal for the portfolio of Transport Commissioner, after the previous candidate, Rovana Plumb, failed to pass the Legal Commission of the European Parliament on conflict of interest grounds.
Although no official explanation has been given by Von der Leyen’s office as to why Nica’s candidacy has been rejected, it comes as little surprise given that he too was unlikely to pass a grilling by the same committee due to previous corruption allegations.
He was accused of abuse of power in a scandal that saw several high-ranking government officials convicted for approving the purchase of overpriced Microsoft software licences. In the end, Nica was not prosecuted thanks to a statute of limitations.
“I can confirm that the Romanian Government sent a letter yesterday (October 7). This letter included the name of a candidate that had already been interviewed by the Commission’s president-elect and not accepted,” Mina Andreeva told Digi24. The president-elect’s team is still in contact with both governments (Romanian and Hungarian, which also had its commissioner rejected), and the (selection) process continues.
Nica was Bucharest’s preferred candidate the first time around, but with each country told to send a male and a female candidate for the post, the president of the Commission rejected Nica in favour of Rovana Plumb. However, Plumb did not pass the exhaustive examination by the Committee on Legal Affairs into possible conflicts of interest over two property loans worth 1 million euros that she failed to declare to the Commission.
The European Commission now awaits Romania’s third candidate for the job, who is expected to be Gabriela Ciot, the current Secretary of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.