Failure of EU's financial reform Aug02

The Times (August 10, 2002)


Failure of EU's financial reform

Sir, In 1999, my maiden speech as a Conservative MEP and member of the European Parliamentís Budgetary Control Committee reflected the concerns of all European MPs at our inability to assess a new team of commissioners after the fall of the disgraced Santer Commission. It seems to me that little has been achieved in the way of financial reform since then.

I was born in Tanzania, where the Government and the civil service were incompetent and corrupt. I thought that I would find it different here in the EU. There are 360 million European citizens in 15 member states and yet we cannot find just 20 men and women with the relevant professional competence and work experience to be commissioners. To make matters worse, the democratically elected European Parliament of 626 MEPs, which may vote on whether or not to dismiss an individual commissioner, is overruled by a recycled politician who, as President of the Commission, reserves the right to sack, or not sack, his own commissioners. Is this a parliament with teeth or just a talking shop?

Neil Kinnockís sacking of Marta Andreasen (report, and leading article, August 3; letters August 8), highlights the Commissionís arrogance and simply confirms the weakness of its accounting systems. Kinnock was appointed vice-president of the Commission to reform and clean up the Brussels bureaucracy, not to silence competent professionals with integrity who exercise their judgement in the best interest of European citizens at considerable cost and embarrassment to themselves.

Public perception, especially in the UK, is that the European commissioners are overpaid, incompetent and arrogant in their use of political power, for which they have no mandate. European citizens will remain disillusioned by the EU until the Parliament is able to choose the commissioners and secure the right to sack them at any time for mismanagement.