|Author (Person)||Shelley, John|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol 7, No.13, 29.3.01, p1|
MEPS are set to back down from a confrontation with the European Commission over its budget - despite a litany of cases of past abuse and bad management.
In a move that will be seen as a victory for Romano Prodi's administration, the European Parliament is next week expected to vote to sign off the budget for 1999.
In the previous four years, the assembly forced the executive to sweat it out by stalling the process with demands for more detailed information on expenditure.
However, the formal thumbs-up is tarnished by a catalogue of criticism in a 21-page document accompanying the discharge.
Among the examples of bad management the Commission is accused of are:
"The Commission representation in Stockholm turned out to be rotten to the core," said Danish socialist MEP Freddy Blak, the Parliament's rapporteur on the 1999 discharge. "The accounts were a mess to such an extent that several employees have already been fired. Others are currently under investigation by the Commission disciplinary board."
The Parliament is also expected to ask why the Spanish authorities did not take more action against suspected flax subsidies fraud in that country between 1997 and 1998.
But they will make no attempt to implicate Commission Vice-President Loyola de Palacio, who was the Spanish agriculture minister at the time, in the affair.
The discharge of the 1999 budget was approved by the Parliament's budgetary control committee on Tuesday by a large majority. That result is likely to be repeated next week when a full meeting of MEPs take a final vote on the discharge.
The committee's decision to back down from a face off with the Commission shows MEPs may be willing to give the Prodi administration the benefit of the doubt on budgetary issues - at least when it comes to the year under discussion. Most of the money spent in 1999 was done so under Jacques Santer, before the current round of Commissioners came to power.
MEPs say they are on the whole satisfied with the responses they have got from the Commission on this round of discharge. A series of interrogations of Commissioners past and present last week on the Fléchard case produced little in the way of new information, but MEPs say they nonetheless demonstrated the good faith of the current administration.
"The new Commission has been willing to cooperate this year. They have been much more open than the Santer Commission," said Blak. "We have received more information and documentation than ever before in the history of discharge."
MEPs are set to back down from a confrontation with the European Commission over its budget - despite a litany of cases of past abuse and bad management. In a move that will be seen as a victory for Romano Prodi's administration, the European Parliament is expected to vote to sign off the budget for 1999.
|Subject Categories||Economic and Financial Affairs|