September 29, 2014

New Czech EU Commissioner Jourová emphasizes her independence

Current minister prepares for her confirmation hearings in front of MEPs in Brussels

Brussels, Sept. 29 (ČTK) — New Czech European Union Commissioner for Justice, Consumer and Gender Equality Věra Jourová, 50, has stressed her independence, qualities as a team player and the effort to improve EU citizens’ lives in her written answers to MEPs.

Each of the new EU commissioners received several questions from EP committees that they should answer before a hearing in the respective committee. Jourová’s hearing is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 1.

“Public confidence in the work of the European Commission can only be assured if it is fully independent and free from outside influence. I take the oath of independence extremely seriously. I can assure the European Parliament I have scrupulously ensured that I have avoided any links to economic activity that would lead to conflicts of interest,” Jourová wrote to MEPs.

“I shall neither seek nor take instructions from any government or any other body and will refrain from any action incompatible with my duties such as to engage in any other occupation,” she added.

A few days ago, the Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) NGO expressed serious doubts about Jourová (ANO) over her possible conflict of interest that stems mainly from her political connection with ANO chairman, Finance Minister and billionaire-businessman Andrej Babiš.

Jourová said she cannot understand the suspicion and insisted on her independence. “I cannot understand in what the possible conflict of interest could rest,” she said, calling the suspicion speculation.

Jourová has been an ANO member since 2012. Since 2013, she has been the movement’s deputy chairwoman, and in January she became regional development minister.

At the beginning of her answers to MEPs, Jourová said she felt honored to be proposed as the Commissioner-designate for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality.

“I will be a strong voice and ardent advocate for these policies, both within the commission, and to the outside world,” she wrote.

She stressed she has “a deep sense of duty to work for the good of others.”

“I am above all a politician and a committed advocate of action that will improve the lives of the citizens that I represent,” she added.

The MEPS also asked about her qualification and experience that she would consider important in connection with the new post.

In this context, Jourová mentioned her unlawful remanding in custody in 2006.

“My career has brought many positive experiences, but also one of the most difficult periods in both my personal and professional life. The principles of freedom and security have a specific poignancy for me as in 2006 I was falsely and unlawfully accused and was held in pre-trial detention for a month. Thankfully I was fully exonerated by the courts in every respect,” she said.

“While this experience is not to be recommended, it gives me a unique insight into the significance of the rule of law in criminal proceedings. When you have been through this experience, you start to understand what it means to be confronted with clear injustice. That is why I am so passionate about the freedom of individuals and liberty, which I consider to be of the highest value that should be promoted and defended,” Jourová pointed out.

In October 2006, the police accused Jourová of having accepted a 2 million Kč bribe from Ladislav Péťa, mayor of Budišov, south Moravia, for securing EU subsidies to the reconstruction of the Budišov chateau. She spent more than a month in custody. Her prosecution was halted in mid-2008, when the police said the crime of which she had been accused never happened.

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