Prodi shuffles his leading aides after press criticism

Romano Prodi's three top aides were fired or reshuffled yesterday in an attempt by the European Commission president to stem criticism of his tenure in Brussels.

After savage attacks on his leadership in the German and French media, Mr Prodi moved his spokesman and long-term ally, Ricardo Levi, to a back-room policy job away from the limelight.

The other main casualty was Carlo Trojan, the Commission's secretary general and a survivor of the tainted administration of Jacques Santer, the former Commission president. He was exiled to head the Commission's office in Geneva, his job in charge of more than 15,000 officials going to David O'Sullivan, the Irish career official who has been head of Mr Prodi's cabinet. Despite rumours of Mr Levi's imminent demise, few expected Mr Prodi to move so quickly or to push through such a big reshuffle. "This reshuffle affects the top three posts so this is a very significant change," said one official, adding that the appointment of a loyalist assecretary general reinforced Mr Prodi's control over thebureaucracy.

Mr Prodi denied he had been pushed into the reshuffle, but conceded the existence of a "communications gap". The catalyst for change may have been a report in the respected Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, which claimed that Mr Prodi was allowing drift to set in while Neil Kinnock, the Commission vice-president, and Chris Patten, the foreign affairs commissioner, plotted a palace coup.

Although the content of the article was seen by most as far-fetched, the panic reaction of Mr Prodi's team created a mini-crisis when a special meeting of commissioners was convened to reaffirm support for the president.

Mr Levi's interim successor will be his deputy, Jonathan Faull, a British lawyer who is expected to take over full-time in the summer, provided the intervening period passes smoothly. In a separate move, Emma Udwin, a BBC journalist, joined the Commission press service this week. Despite being the product of a political wobble, yesterday's reshuffle displays Mr Prodi's adeptness at shuffling staff and shoring up his position.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'