Strong criticism after Kroes hearing

29 September 2004

Strong criticism after Kroes hearing

The European Parliament has announced that it expects Neelie Kroes to clear up a number of points regarding three separate matters before the Plenary Sitting in Strasbourg on 27th October. It is at this Plenary, a meeting which brings together the whole of the Parliament’s membership, that a vote will be taken as to whether her nomination for the position of Commissioner for Competition Policy is acceptable.

Neelie KroesFrom a letter from the Chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, before which Ms Kroes appeared on 28th October, it appears that a large majority of the committee’s members were disappointed by her performance, particularly with her refusal to answer the question as to what attitude she would take were the Parliament not to approve her. The European Parliament cannot reject an individual appointee, but only either refuse the whole Commission or ask its President to change his mind.

In addition, MEPs have asked Commission President-designate José Barroso to publish the letter from the Commission’s legal services in which an opinion is given as to what extent her past involvement in a wide range of business activities could conflict with the performance of her duties as Competition Commissioner. Kroes indicated during the hearing that she had no objection to this, so that it is unlikely to cause a problem.

The Parliament has also asked Mr Barroso to give a clear explanation as to how the Code of Conduct for Ms Kroes will be implemented and to do so before the Plenary. The Parliamentary Committee has said that it is willing to approve Kroes’s appointment only if these questions are answered satisfactorily.

The Parliament’s demands, and its clear disappointment over the quality of the nominee, demonstrates that the SP was justified in the doubts which it had regarding Ms Kroes’s suitability for the post. Numerous MEPs were disconcerted by the often vague and superficial manner in which she answered their questions. The type of criticism seen in its letter, moreover, and the attaching of conditions to its approval, are rarities.

The SP maintains its view that Kroes is unfit for the post and calls upon her to withdraw.

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