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EU: How the UK's Next Commissioner Will Be Appointed

22/07/2014 12:01 BST | Updated 21/09/2014 10:59 BST

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The name raised a few eyebrows in Brussels when he was announced as the nominee for the UK's spot in the European Commission. Lord Jonathan Hill of Oareford, the leader of the House of Lords, is little known abroad and his appointment is far from guaranteed as he will be subjected to a careful vetting process over the coming months.

As the new European Commission must be approved by the European Parliament before it can start work, Lord Hill will need to convince MEPs of his suitability as commissioner. The UK will be hoping to persuade Commission president-elect Jean-Claude Juncker to allocate Hill one of the weightier portfolios. A spokesman for David Cameron said the prime minister favoured an economic one.

The vetting process by the European Parliament takes months. Once the portfolios have been assigned, the commissioners-designate are asked to provide written replies to five questions from MEPs. They are then invited to a hearing at the Parliament where they will be questioned by the parliamentary committees dealing with their portfolio. Afterwards the committee in charge has 24 hours to finalise its evaluation.

MEPs will be keen to assess candidates' general suitability as well as their expertise in and knowledge of the portfolio they have been assigned. In the past those who failed to convince MEPs of their aptness received a negative assessment. Although the Parliament can only vote on the Commission as a whole and not on individual candidates, former Commission presidents have tended to propose new candidates following criticism from the Parliament rather than risk the whole Commission being rejected.

Of course, other considerations can come into play. EP president Martin Schulz warned heads of state and government at the last EU summit (DATE) that the Parliament would not give its blessing to a Commission with too few women. Juncker, who was elected Commission president by the Parliament earlier this month, has also spoken out in favour of sufficient female commissioners.

Once the Parliament has approved the Commission and the Council has appointed it, the new commissioners can start their five-year term. They are expected to take office on 1 November.

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