Verbal questioning of Finance Minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus (Reform) following her nomination as Estonia's representative at the European Court of Auditors (ECA) will take place in November at the earliest, though the minister has already sent off answers to the written aspect of her nomination.
Pentus-Rosimannus, whose nomination hit controversy last month over claims she had influenced the process – the ECA candidate gets nominated by the finance minister – is set to replace Juhan Parts, whose term ends on December 31.
Kadi Herkül, European Parliament spokesperson, told ERR that: "It is now clear that the Pentus-Rosimannus hearing will definitely not take place in October."
Pentus-Rosimannus herself told ERR that she has already submitted her answers to a written questionnaire to the European Parliament's budgetary committee. "I have just sent the answers to the committee at the European Parliament," the minister said.
"The question format is the same for candidates from all countries, related both to the candidate's previous experience and the specifics of the work of the inspection chamber," she went on.
"I take the preparation for the hearing seriously, the basis material for this is very voluminous. Right now, my main attention is [however] focused on the proceedings of the 2023 state budget in the parliament, which contains important decisions for the people of Estonia," Pentus-Rosimannus added.
The minister declined to to tell ERR how she answered the last of 19 questions in the written questionnaire, namely what she would do if the committee did not accept her appointment and/or the parliament as a whole voted against it.
At the same time, the parliament's vote is not definitive; the appointment is up to the Council of the European Union, representing the governments of the 27 member states, though this council cannot appoint Pentus-Rosimannus if she withdraws over a European Parliament vote against her.
The rest of the written questions include entries attempting to get an overview of her career to date, her competences and her independence in the role should she get it.
Former president Kersti Kaljulaid is a former ECA representative.
Despite its name, the ECA is not a court as such, though it does indeed audit the EU's own budgetary activities.
Former MEP Indrek Tarand, who sat on the same committee receiving the questionnaire, said he thought it unlikely that Pentus-Rosimannus' candidacy would be opposed, due to the need for consensus and the circle of favors that exists in the EU.
Pentus-Rosimannus' party, Reform, allies itself at European level with Renew Europe, formerly ALDE, which generally cooperates with the two other largest parties , the European People's Party (EPP) and the Social Democrats (SD).
Committee members can however ask awkward questions; while no Estonian MEP currently sits on the committee, there is nothing to stop them suggesting ideas to budgetary council measures.
Editor: Andrew Whyte