Kinnock launches Brussels clean-up

TOUGH ANTI-sleaze rules for Europe's 20 new commissioners will be agreed tomorrow as part of a clean-up aimed at ending conflicts of interest and corruption.

A new code of conduct has been drawn up by Neil Kinnock, the former Labour Party leader, who is due to become the European Commission's vice-president in charge of reform in Brussels. He is to demand that all 20 commissioners sign it.

The rules will force commissioners to observe a "cooling off" period before they take a private-sector job. For the first time, they will be obliged to attend weekly meetings of the full Commission, unless they have the prior permission of the incoming president, the Italian Romano Prodi, to be absent.

The code aims to prevent any conflict of interest for sitting and retiring commissioners. "It will ensure once and for all that they cannot use their experience to parachute themselves into highly paid jobs, employ their friends or ignore corruption in their departments," a senior official said.

The need for new rules was underlined by Martin Bangemann, Germany's former industry commissioner, who had responsibility for telecommunications. He provoked an outcry by announcing his decision to join the board of a Spanish telecoms giant for a reported salary of pounds 700,000. Last week, European Union member states decided to try to stop his pension rights by taking court action.

It emerged yesterday that a strong personal attack on Mr Bangemann enabled Mr Kinnock to land his important job as the EU's "sleaze-buster". A transcript of his remarks was shown to Mr Prodi, who expanded the much smaller role he planned for Mr Kinnock in charge of liaison with the European Parliament.

The transcript, obtained by The Independent, reveals that Mr Kinnock told Mr Bangemann his actions "breed cynicism and distrust, not only among the general public and those who work with us and for us - they make me cynical and distrustful and angry too."

He added: "My respect for a man that I have valued as an able and friendly colleague vanished. If you were not here I would not have said that. But I do say it now because I can say it to your face."

Mr Kinnock also plans sweeping reforms for the Commission's 17,000 civil servants, to bring in promotion on merit. He wants a crackdown on its armed security service, which was criticised as a "state within a state" by the inquiry into fraud and nepotism in March which led to the resignation of the entire Commission.

The code of conduct is due to be agreed this weekend when the new Commission meets for the first time for a "bonding session" at a chateau in Aartselaar in Belgium. One senior source described the code as "the first step in the reform process and in restoring public confidence in the Commission".

Mr Prodi has already extracted a promise from all the new commissioners that they will resign if asked, making him more powerful than any of his predecessors. His allies say he may have a mid-term reshuffle if he believes some members of his team are under-performing.

t The centre-right parties allied in the European People's Party, who overturned the Socialist dominance in last month's European election, yesterday joined the smaller Liberal Group to share the presidency of the European Parliament over the impending five-year legislature, shutting the Socialist faction out of the presidency for the first time.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
News
i100
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: Business Development Manager

£30000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This organisation based in Pea...

Recruitment Genius: Administrator / Warehouse Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This fast-paced award winning company based in...

Recruitment Genius: General Manager

£50000 - £70000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This provider of global logisti...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Manager - £70,000 OTE

£35000 - £70000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Manager (Vice President...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable