SOCIALIST MEPs have expressed serious reservations about the nomination of Mariann Fisher Boel as the next EU farm commissioner.

Following Mrs Fischer Boel‘s three hour cross examination by the parliament‘s agriculture committee in Brussels last night, Socialist MEPs spoke of their concern for the future of farming under her liberal approach.

They said she lacked vision and took a laissez-faire approach to the policy.

Despite her background as a farm minister and a farmer, her performance was “deeply discouraging”, they said.

Other political groups in the committee also felt the performance was disappointing.

The Euro MPs accused Mrs Fischer Boel of being unwilling to give straight answers on major policy areas.

They accused her of failing to deal with questions over the farm budget, environment, rural development, milk, fruit and vegetables, sugar policy and trade.

On sugar in particular the commissioner designate parried a barrage of questions with the response that, while the EU was engaged in an appeal in the WTO, it was premature to discuss new commission proposals.

Ms Boel was also criticised for her stance on women in agriculture.

Socialist press spokesman Tony Robinson said that the 200-strong group would meet on Oct 13 to discuss the issue, and would make a decision on whether to endorse the candidate on Oct 20.

But the options are limited as the parliament has to accept or reject all 25 commissioners as a team. It cannot pick off individuals.

“There were just three individuals we were not happy with,” said Mr Robinson.

“There may be possibilities to shift portfolios within the college of commissioners and give someone else the job of agriculture.

“Otherwise we will have to vote against the whole lot and the process of selecting the new commission will start from scratch.”

A spokeswoman for the parliament‘s agriculture committee said the committee coordinators had delayed writing their letter of assessment of Mrs Fischer Boel until next week (w/c Oct 11).

The new team of commissioners is due to take office on Nov 1 following a vote by the full parliament.