Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/1999-07-21-Speech-3-118"

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". – Can I join Mr Sasi in congratulating Members of the House on the election that they achieved to this Parliament and particularly congratulate, as Mr Sasi did, the new Members of the House? I hope that they will find their tasks and their career here are both fascinating and fulfilling in the service of the people who have elected them. The House may also wish to know that, in the course of discussions this month, Members of the existing Commission who have always fully respected their solemn undertaking to meet the obligations of integrity and discretion have readily and voluntarily reaffirmed that commitment. To them, as to me of course, it is axiomatic. The House will be aware that the composite version of the resolution for debate before this Parliament today was produced this morning in keeping with usual practice. The Commission has therefore had no opportunity to discuss the specific call in the motion for resolution for current Commissioners to respect voluntarily the new Code of Conduct. I have, however, consulted the acting President, Mr Marín, and can inform the House that this issue will receive the attention of the Commission at its meeting next week. I have sought to respond to the motion for debate as fully as possible whilst respecting the fact that the case which prompted the question is now . I know that the House will share my awareness of the fact that this debate and my later response to it will need to take account of that obvious legal consideration. The resolution for debate relates to specific events and to principles concerning the conduct of Commissioners. I will therefore respond on behalf of the Commission by reporting briefly on those events and on the Commission's reaction to them. On 29 June 1999, the President of the Commission, Mr Santer was made aware of the decision of Mr Bangemann to depart from the Commission in order to take up a private sector appointment two days later on 1 July 1999. Mr Santer wrote to Mr Bangemann on 30 June 1999 informing him that he would be put on functional leave and that his responsibilities would be transferred to a colleague in the Commission. In that letter, Mr Santer stipulated that Mr Bangemann could not commence his new duties and his new activities until the procedure set out in Article 215 of the Treaty had been completed and he also said that he would submit to the College the question of the compatibility of that planned appointment with Article 213 of the Treaty. On 1 July 1999, the Commission discussed the matter before beginning its formal scheduled meeting. Mr Bangemann attended those proceedings and stated that he had not acted and would not act in ways that breached Article 213. The Commission formally took note of those statements from Mr Bangemann. The House will be familiar with Article 213 which, amongst other things, requires Members of the Commission in particular ‘to behave with integrity and discretion as regards the acceptance, after they have ceased to hold office, of certain appointments'. All Commissioners, Mr President, appear before the Court of Justice to swear an oath to that effect on taking up office. At the meeting held on 1 July 1999, Commissioners expressed their views to Mr Bangemann and he then withdrew from the room. Commissioners subsequently considered the issues raised by these events and their conclusions are set out in a statement which was published on 1 July 1999 and extensively reported. On 9 July 1999, as the House will have heard from Mr Sasi, the Council decided to refer this case to the Court of Justice under Article 213 of the Treaty and, following that decision, it is now for the Court to pronounce on the matters. Honourable Members will understand that the case is therefore now and the Commission consequently has to abstain from public comment on it. As a general indication of the view of the Commission on the issues posed by the motion before the House, I refer Honourable Members to the concluding paragraph of the Commission's statement of 1 July 1999 which expressed the view ‘that it would be advisable for the future to clarify the implementation of Article 213 regarding Commission members' activities after they have ceased to hold office'. The Commission consequently notes that on 17 July 1999 the President and Commission-designate agreed upon and published a draft Code of Conduct for Commissioners. As the House will have seen from press reports, that document specifies clear compulsory requirements for future Commissioners who intend to engage in any occupation during the year after they leave office to inform the Commission of their intentions in good time. It further provides for a procedure of examination and decision-making that includes the specific power of the Commission to refer the matter to an ethics committee when a Commissioner's planned occupation is related to his or her portfolio."@en1

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