Leading Article: Europe's leaders must not slacken the drive for reform
Thursday 15 April 1999
It is right that European leaders are tackling both these matters. Slobodan Milosevic, President of Yugoslavia, cannot be given the succour of seeing any divisions within the EU. But nor should European governments allow the Commission to keep drifting following the resignation of the Commission President Jacques Santer and the 19 other commissioners because of corruption scandals.
There are decisions to be made. Mr Prodi needs a team of commissioners to oversee the reform of the Commission. Following the scandals the European parliament has won the right to vet the candidates put forward by the member states. It should use this right to ensure that member states appoint commissioners who are ready to do the job at hand, and not those who take their posts as a reward for past domestic service.
The new candidates should not be appointed before the European elections in June. The next parliament will not feel bound by the decisions of its predecessor and the vetting will have to be done again. Not until early September will the new MEPs get going on the hearings.
There are three categories of existing commissioners. The first includes Edith Cresson, who has been named and shamed in the report on the Commission's failures. She could not be reappointed in any circumstances. The second category includes commissioners such as Sir Leon Brittan, who have not been specifically criticised and who have indicated that they do not want to work beyond the end of the year. The third category comprises those such as Neil Kinnock who want to serve for the next five-year term.
So Mr Prodi has a choice in September. Why should untainted commissioners such as Mr Kinnock be blamed for the malfeasance of others? Furthermore, as Sir Leon has argued, experienced people are needed during this period of the banana troubles and the war in Kosovo.
Mr Prodi should reject such arguments, however. The report that led to the mass resignation stressed that the Commission is a collective body and implicitly criticised all of the commissioners. By sacking all of them and having a new set starting in September, Mr Prodi would have a team that would be acceptable to both the member states and the parliament. This would enable the Commission to push ahead with such neglected tasks as appointing someone to bring together common foreign and security policy, as announced in the Amsterdam Treaty. If the EU is to rebut charges of being an economic lion but a military mouse, such an appointment is overdue.
auctionThe first 23 lots have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
healthJames Bond's alcohol consumption puts him at 'high risk' of cirrhosis, tremors... and impotence
comedy'Fresh Meat' star sees off stiff competition from Alan Carr, David Mitchell, Graham Norton, Lee Mack and Sarah Millican to win top prize
musicPolice chief rejects rappers' claims that his work is as dangerous as law enforcement or military service
tvSpoiler alert: Find out the result of a heated final show
Beatles rush out 'bootleg' album to defy EU copyright law
Harvey Weinstein reveals his secret weapon on-set
Now that an oil trader's drinking has got him sacked, will we all have to make do with an afternoon latte?
Chiwetel Ejiofor and Idris Elba get nods for Best Actor, which no black Brit has ever won
Geoffrey Macnab reviews The Desolation of Smaug - the meat in Peter Jackson's Hobbit sandwich
peopleWhat advice would David Cameron give to his younger self?
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nelson Mandela memorial: ‘Bogus’ sign language interpreter made mockery of Barack Obama’s tribute in Soweto
- 2 Mystery of Epping Forest 'big cat' is solved
- 3 French café starts charging extra to rude customers
- 4 Australia incest case: Severely deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding
- 5 Physicists discover 'clearest evidence yet' that the Universe is a hologram
- < Previous
- Next >