Bangemann pension row goes to court

MARTIN BANGEMANN, the outgoing European commissioner who plunged Brussels into a new sleaze crisis, was last night facing the prospect of legal action to recover his pension, worth an estimated pounds 60,000 a year.

European governments agreed to launch proceedings last night after diplomats thrashed out a new, more aggressive policy against Mr Bangemann. The latter, who as the German commissioner for industry had responsibility for telecommunications strategy, caused outrage by announcing plans to join the board of a Spanish telecoms giant, Telefonica, for an estimated salary of pounds 700,000 a year.

On Thursday, European Union ambassadors recommended legal action in the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. That decision was last night approved unanimously by foreign ministers. They also agreed to allow Jacques Santer, the outgoing Commission president, and Emma Bonino, acting humanitarian affairs commissioner, to step down early as both have been elected to the European Parliament.

Britain has pushed hard for action against Mr Bangemann, whose job decision was condemned as "deplorable" by Tony Blair. A tough course became almost inevitable when Germany decided to support the move. "The UK fully supports the ambassadors' recommendation. We think this is necessary because people expect the highest standards of public life in the Commission as well as in national governments," a British official said.

If he goes to court, Mr Bangemann will be accused of breaching EU rules on the behaviour of commissioners during and after their terms of office. In particular, the ambassadors want the judges to decide whether Mr Bangemann has disregarded a clause which requires that commissioners "behave with integrity and discretion as regards the acceptance, after they have ceased to hold office, of certain appointments or benefits".

Mr Bangemann's insistence that he will not take telecoms secrets with him to one of the sector's biggest operators has done nothing to quell anger over his appointment.

Like the rest of the Commission which resigned en masse in March, following allegations of sleaze and cronyism, Mr Bangemann has been continuing to preform his old job until replacements take charge. That will not happen until September, although he will be released from duties earlier.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing
The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower