The left-wing parties in the European Parliament are looking to secure the immediate rejection of Miguel Arias Cañete in this week’s hearings, but they need the support of the socialists to achieve it. And that’s where this trick comes into play: a supposed ‘non-aggression pact’ between socialists and conservatives. That means that if a conservative candidate falls out of the running, a socialist will fall behind him.
Outside of the political arena, Cañete also faces strong opposition from civil society and non-governmental organisations, who carried out demonstrations on the day of his cross-examination for the post of Commissioner, in order to put pressure on the European Parliament.
The main criticism aimed at the candidate for the post of Commissioner regards a conflict of interests. Cañete has held shares in oil companies for many years, selling them at the last minute – in the week prior to his hearing. The business affairs of his close family are also under scrutiny, as they’re linked with agribusinesses and oil companies as well.
Members of the European Parliament from various parties, civil society representatives and even the European Parliament’s own Committee for Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) have criticised the sexist comments made by Cañete following a debate during the European Elections campaign: “If you show your intellectual superiority [as a man], you’re made out to be a male chauvinist cornering a defenceless woman."
Controversy has followed Cañete all the way to Brussels, where he was greeted with cries of, “Stop Cañete!” Below are some of the statements made amongst the crowd of people gathered in the middle of the Place du Luxembourg in the European capital.
Teresa Rodríguez, MEP – Podemos
“If Cañete is accepted, he’ll bring the institutions of the European Union into more disrepute.”
Paloma López, MEP – Izquierda Unida
“It’s possible to have a debate with women as well; he can say what he wants to us, we’ve got the mental capacity to tell him what we think. His conflict of interests is like energy: it’s not created or destroyed, it’s just changed from one form to another.”
Ernest Urtasun, MEP/EBRD ICV
“This isn’t the Europe we want. We have to ask the MEPs how we’re going to face up to defending the European Union if they accept Cañete.”
Jordi Sebastià, MEP – Compromis
“I’ve got a question: Was there anybody worse than Cañete in all of Europe? That’s a direct provocation for our citizens.”
Pascoe Sabido, Corporate Europe Observatory
“Big oil companies, sitting in their offices, they're rubbing his hands in glee, they're clinking champagne glasses at the thought of having Cañete seating in the comission overseeing Climate and energy”