Leading Article: Cracking down on Brussels sleaze is only a beginning
Thursday 30 September 1999
The changes also mark a further significant victory for Romano Prodi, Mr Santer's successor, in his campaign to wrest back influence from the national governments.
Almost from its outset in the Fifties, the European project has been the story of a struggle between the Commission and its member states. The power of the former reached an apogee under Jacques Delors, only to plunge to its nadir under the incompetent and unlamented Mr Santer.
Mr Prodi has already secured the right to reject candidates for commissioner whom he deems not up to the job, and to demand that individual commissioners resign. Now a blow has been struck to banish the influence of national governments at the back door, whereby directorates became informal national fiefdoms. Until yesterday, for instance, a Frenchman had held the top agriculture post in Brussels for 40 years. But no longer. Dare we hope this might even be the key to reform of the CAP?
Equally, however, we must not blame the Commission for all of Europe's shortcomings, nor assume these will disappear as a result of the Kinnock measures. The Commission is a civil service, not a government. It may propose and execute policy, but ultimate decision-making power in the EU resides with the Council of Ministers - with Tony Blair, Robin Cook, Gordon Brown and their European opposite numbers, who defend the interests not of some sinister supranational government, but of their own national capitals. Unarguably, the EU's workings must be made more accountable to ordinary citizens.
For the moment, however, Europe is in no-man's-land, more than a geographical agglomeration of nation states, but far less than a real federation. Until that dilemma is resolved, yesterday's changes, however valuable, can be only a beginning.
Final Top Gear reviewTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response yet from Ellen DeGeneres
- 2 What supermodels really think about posing in the nude
- 3 North Korean defector flees to Finland 'with evidence of chemical testing on humans'
- 4 Black teen in critical condition after store employee 'shoots him for stealing 79-cent pack of cookies'
- 5 Swedish minister gives strongest case yet on why EU should stop turning away asylum seekers
This is surely the best way to watch Jaws
Amy Winehouse film director: 'I wanted to show the fun, bright-eyed girl we didn't know'
James Blunt was special guest on the highest-rating Top Gear episode ever
Chris Moyles reportedly set to make radio comeback with new breakfast show on XFM
Contemporary art is a fraud, says top dealer
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture