Wednesday, May 25, 2005

EU Commission President Barroso Faces Motion on Corruption Today

The president of the EU Commission, Barroso, faces critics of his acceptance of lavish hospitality this afternoon in Brussels.

The motion asks Barroso to explain "how he could receive a gift to the value of several thousand euros from a billionaire businessman who then, one month later, received the green light from the European Commission for a regional aid grant to a value of 10 million euro".

The originator of the motion, MEP Nigel Farage, will urge two main points in his opening remarks:

- that the Commission should not be left to police itself over the hospitality it accepts;

- that the EU Parliament should monitor the Commission more closely in this regard.

Perfectly reasonable, one should have thought. Nevertheless, the Commission has done everything it could to stop this motion from happening, and Mr Farage is to be congratulated on his persistence in bringing it off.

It will be interesting to see whether Barroso can fend off any damage to his position for having gone yachting with his old friend Spiros Latsis, the billionaire Greek shipping tycoon. In theory, Barroso is defending not just himself but his Commission as a whole, as it will be obliged to resign en masse, should the motion be carried by MP's and a majority of ministers. The Commission is taking no chances - it says "all available Commissioners" will appear with Barroso in a gesture of solidarity.

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