Former finance minister passes European Court of Auditors' hearing

Keit Pentus-Rosimannus at the European Court of Auditors' hearing on November 8, 2022.
Keit Pentus-Rosimannus at the European Court of Auditors' hearing on November 8, 2022. Source: European Parliament.

Former finance minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus (Reform), Estonia's candidate for the European Court of Auditors (ECA), passed her hearing with EU Parliament's (EP) budget control committee on Tuesday.

Twenty-nine MPs voted in favor of sending her candidacy to the EP's plenary session, where it will be voted on, four were against and two did not vote.

During the session, Pentus-Rosimannus gave a speech and answered questions from the committee about competence, her background and interests.

She also mentioned the letter sent to EP members by EKRE MP Mart Helme, who is against her nomination, saying it was not based on facts and that Helme is a political opponent.

Helme believes rules were broken during the nomination process and that Pentus-Rosimannus was involved with the decision to put her forward as a candidate.

"I did not participate in the submission procedure. I was nominated by the prime minister, who put me forward as a candidate and asked for my permission," she told the assembled members.

During the hearing, Finnish MEP Petri Sarvamaa asked Pentus-Rosimannus about the 2015 Autorollo bankruptcy scandal, over which she resigned as foreign minister at the time, and her decision not to testify in court.

Mart Helme. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

She answered this was because a family member was involved in the case.

Pentus-Rosimannus said, although the case was unpleasant, three courts confirmed she was not involved in the bankruptcy process. 

"All the allegations against me were unfounded from the start," she told the committee.

Sarvamaa also asked about the confusion surrounding her nomination process and how she was involved.

Pentus-Rosimannus told the MEPs the process of selecting a nominee has been the same since Estonia joined the European Union in 2004. 

"My candidacy was submitted by the prime minister. I was absent from the submission process, I did not submit it myself," she said.

European Union flag flying at Stenbock House in Tallinn. Source: Stenbock House

Pentus-Rosimannus was also asked about her plan and vision for the future of the ECA.

She said her goal is to place a bigger emphasis on performance audits and pushed for digitization of the court's activities.

The final decision on her suitability for the role will be made by the Council of the European Union.

Pentus-Rosimannus resigned from the position of finance minister, which she had held since March 2021, last month to focus on her candidacy.

Mart Helme has twice applied to the Prosecutor's Office to open proceedings against the former minister over the nomination process. The appeals were rejected both times.

The ECA is one of the EU's seven institutions and every member state has a seat at the table. It was established in 1975 in Luxembourg to improve EU financial management. 


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Editor: Aleksander Krjukov, Helen Wright

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