Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2004-05-05-Speech-3-016"

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"Mr President, on behalf of the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Group I congratulate the President of the Commission on assembling a talented team of new Commissioners from the ten new Member States, France and Spain. We welcome the political balance that is found among the ten, as well as the presence of three women. My Group will be giving its support to the enlarged Commission when we vote at noon today. The European Union needs a strong, legitimate and accountable Commission, capable of providing political vision and leadership. Our leaders must reflect this in the Constitutional Treaty and in their nominations for the next Commission President – but we cannot have a strong Commission until this House takes more seriously its role as the third branch of European government. Once in every five years this Parliament is the Union's personnel officer. We are there to take the proper measure of those appointed to the Commission or its presidency. To date our hearings of Commissioners have been handicapped by too much partisanship and too little sustained, in-depth questioning. So all of the Commissioners nominated in November can expect tough questioning from MEPs of the political centre, the kind of questioning that was too little in evidence at last month's hearings. This Commission is the first for a new enlarged Europe and the imperative for Liberals in this House is to ensure that it is effective, committed and competent. It is also important that we restate and establish once and for all the long-standing principle of individual responsibility of Commissioners to Parliament for their policies and their departments. It is inevitable that the work of this Commission will bind that of the next, just as the work of this Parliament will not be undone on 14 June. Like any executive, the Commission aims to provide continuity in the management of Europe's business. Much of this business has political import, yet there should be no suggestion that business cannot be done simply because the Commission is approaching the end of its term. That argument not only impugns the professionalism of the Commission and its officials, but it parades a tenuous grasp of the European agenda. The Commission's mandate is for the running of the European Union and yet there seem to be some in this House who would have it closed down for the summer. Do they not envisage that the settlement of the European Union's budget for the next seven years or the question of Turkish membership might make some demands on the Commission's attention between now and November? To close down the Commission's right of initiative at this point would not only be wildly impractical, it would be downright irresponsible. Let us read between the lines here. My Group will not be party to efforts to paint the Prodi Commission as a lame duck. Nor will we be a part of attempts to manufacture that lameness now by restraining the Commission's powers. European Commissioners are bound to leave their politics at the water's edge. This House should show a similar maturity. The treaties require a degree of impartiality from Commissioners that would be difficult to counterfeit and that is why, for all their posturing, the critics of Mr Prodi have yet to provide any evidence that his other interests have negatively affected his work in Brussels. European Liberal Democrats and Reformers in this House have had their share of criticism of some of the Commission's policies but we have always recognised its individual talents and its collective commitment. This week we need only think of the extraordinary work of Commissioner Verheugen in helping secure a successful European enlargement. The new Commission will begin its term with one thing in its favour. Many familiar faces are likely to be there again in November. This continuity can and should be an asset. Likewise the Commission must have the necessary latitude over the next five months to prepare the ground and to maintain the momentum necessary to make it a success. Indeed, to insist on anything else – especially just to pay party political dues – is risible."@en1
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"Liebe deutsche Freunde, das müsst ihr ernst nehmen!"1

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