Barry Andrews said that the commissioner will be questioned on his "solo runs". Alamy

Commissioner to be quizzed by MEPs on his 'solo run' to remove aid to Gaza

Oliver Várhelyi announced the bloc would be suspending aid to Palestinians on his own initiative.

Muiris O’Cearbhaill reports from Brussels.

EUROPEAN COMMISSIONER Oliver Várhelyi will be quizzed by MEPs on his “solo runs” in regards to the management and allocation of humanitarian aid.

The Commissioner, who is responsible for relations with the EU’s neighbouring countries, posted on X, formerly Twitter, that the EU would place €691 million of support to Palestine “under review” after the Hamas assault on Israel on 7 October.

Várhelyi said the move meant “all payments [are] immediately suspended. All projects put under review. All new budget proposals, including for 2023 postponed until further notice. Comprehensive assessment of the whole portfolio”.

The move was criticised by the Irish government as it believed there was “no legal basis” for the Commissioner’s “unilateral decision”. It was reversed by the Commission itself soon afterwards. 

The Commission later admitted that Várhelyi had acted on his own personal initiative and had not sought the blessing of President Ursula von der Leyen before doing so.

Speaking in Brussels today, Fianna Fáil MEP Barry Andrews said that the Hungarian commissioner will be questioned this afternoon, in front of the EU’s development committee, on his “solo runs”.

Despite drastic U-turns, walk-backs and reviews, one Irish MEP told The Journal last week that the Hungarian Commissioner overstepped his remit and should resign. Over 70 MEPs also called for his resignation last week.

Asked by The Journal if Várhelyi would resign, Andrews said it was “unlikely”.

Andrews said: “President von der Leyen has said nothing whatsoever about it – [there's] not even been a criticism.”

“Obviously the policy itself has been walked back, suspension has been replaced with a review,” he added.

Andrews believes even if Várhelyi did resign the Orbán government in Hungary would “elect somebody equally as critical of the European project” to the role of Commissioner.

IMG_0300 MEPs Barry Andrews (L) with Billy Kelleher today in Brussels. Muiris O'Cearbhaill / The Journal Muiris O'Cearbhaill / The Journal / The Journal

Last week, while addressing the European Parliament in Strasbourg, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced the EU would also be immediately trebelling its aid to Palestinians in Gaza.

Andrews said in Brussels today: “President von der Leyen has said we don’t fund Hamas, and we will never fund Hamas. So why are we doing a review, in the face of this humanitarian catastrophe?

“Why are we spending time doing this?,” Andrew added.

Andrew believes that the Commissioner’s previous attempts to remove aid to Gazans shows he took “every opportunity to diminish and degrade” the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.