Leading Article: We need a revolt in Brussels to deal with these new Bourbons
Friday 02 July 1999
At every turn, the Commission demonstrates precisely the same capacity to appal and exactly the same insouciance about public opinion as the Bourbons displayed before they met their unhappy end in the French Revolution. The decision by EU Commissioner Martin Bangemann to take a job at a salary of pounds 700,000 a year with the Spanish company Telefonica - in an industry which he was responsible for policing - is, as fellow Commissioner Neil Kinnock said, "flabbergasting". It may not lead to a storming of the Berlaymont or the Breydel, but it does tarnish the nobility of the European ideal and, at a more practical level, further undermine the chances of the British electorate ever voting to join the euro. Reform should be the priority of those devoted to the European cause.
Nothing less than a revolution is needed in the way that Brussels runs itself. European politicians have talked for years in a desultory fashion about addressing "the democratic deficit". Successive European treaties have handed the European Parliament powers which it appears unwilling to exercise. The reaction of Pauline Green, leader of the Socialist group of MEPs - who has not always stood up to the Commission - suggests that she still may not recognise the scale of the problem: "It's very sad when you have to tie down every little nook and cranny of a contract." Yes, it is sad. But, Mrs Green, it will have to be done. If the MEPs won't do it, then we will have to rely on the Council of Ministers to impose accountability on behalf of the citoyens.
The jailing of Jonathan Aitken and yesterday's Committee on Standards Report on Peter Mandelson remind us that dealing with sleaze is something that the British political system has been forced to become rather good at. The Ministerial Code, the register of Commons Interests, the Neill Commission and all the rest of the paraphernalia cannot be simply exported to Brussels, but they could be modified. Brussels must be "Nolanised". More difficult to transplant is political culture. Nowhere among the party- list hacks of the European Parliament is there a Tam Dalyell, say, or a Chris Mullin, backbenchers of independent mind with the tenacity to take on the executive. Until Brussels grows more troublemakers, the bureaucrats will continue to remind us of Napoleon's other description of the Bourbons - "hereditary asses".
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days
Oscar voter speaks outfilm
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Forget 'The Dress': Here are five of the biggest news stories you might have missed
- 2 The black and blue dress: Makers considering a white and gold version
- 3 Prince Harry leaving the armed forced to pursue conservation projects in Africa
- 4 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 5 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
Seinfeld is laughing all the way to the bank: TV show generates $3.1bn in repeat fees since final episode
Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl: First look at Oscar winner as transgender artist
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
Justin Kelly interview: On James Franco playing a gay man who renounces his homosexuality
Fearne Cotton quits Radio 1 after ten years for 'family and new adventures'
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Aqsa Mahmood branded a 'disgrace' by her parents after claims she recruited three UK girls flying to Middle East