Cologne Summit: Prodi set to disappoint Kinnock over new job

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NEIL KINNOCK, the former Labour leader, may be destined for a job managing reform in Brussels and relations between the European Commission and the European Parliament.

In his first public comments on the shape of the new administration, the incoming Commission president, Romano Prodi, said yesterday that the two new vice- presidents of the Commission would be in charge of managing reform.

Mr Kinnock, the acting transport commissioner who has served in Brussels for five years, is expected to be made a vice-president of the European Commission because of his seniority.

Yesterday the options narrowed when Mr Prodi said that one vice-president will manage reform of the Commission with a related post such as control of the budget. The other will concentrate on relations with the European Parliament, and on institutional reform.

Mr Prodi's comments may be a disappointment to Mr Kinnock who has made clear his preference for an external affairs job, or responsibility for enlargement of the EU to the east. Were he to win that type of post, it could now not be as a vice-president.

Chris Patten, the former governor of Hong Kong who is expected to be Britain's other commissioner, is tipped for a job as social affairs commissioner.

Allies of Mr Prodi said yesterday that the move by the former Italian president was designed to stress the importance of reform.

Commissioners may still be asked to work together in groups, for example in the economic areas where portfolios overlap, they added.

Mr Prodi also took a step to boost his powers by saying that each member of the new Commission will be asked to accept that they must resign should the president feel obliged to ask them to do so.