Ireland’s EU commissioner designate Phil Hogan is attending a three-hour hearing at the European Parliament this morning during which his suitability to become the next Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development will be assessed.
Mr Hogan will face questions from 45 members of the Agriculture Committee on a range of issues relating to the EU farming sector but also on his political record in Ireland.
Technically the parliament cannot reject an individual candidate, only the commission as a whole can be formally voted down by the entire parliament.
But if a candidate performs poorly, or indeed has some domestic political baggage, pressure has, in the past, been brought to bear on the president of the commission to persuade the candidate to withdraw.
There has been some publicity in Brussels about Mr Hogan’s troubles over how much he knew about consultancy fees for Irish Water, and more recently the legal threats directed at Dublin MEP Nessa Childers over his alleged intervention in a housing issue.
It is almost certain these issues will be raised, and there will be intense scrutiny about how he handles them.
Equally, it is certain that the majority of MEPs from some 17 member states will prefer to focus on Mr Hogan’s vision for the next five years on everything from milk quotas, to set aside, to transatlantic trade and the Russian ban on EU exports.