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Europe

EU Parliament Demands Answers on Barrot

MEPs call for clarification surrounding French Commissioner Jacques Barrot's conviction in 2000 over illegal party financing.

On Saturday, incoming European Commission President Jose Barroso said in a statement that the French commissioner "will transmit in writing all the necessary information related to his personal situation and that he is at the disposal of the European Parliament." The revelations about Jacques Barrot, who holds the office of Transport Commissioner, are the latest in a line of problems that have marred the beginning of the new commission's five-year term. Barrot's past was revealed by eurosceptic UK MEP Nigel Farage just minutes before MEPs voted to approve the commission on Thursday. A spokesman said that Barroso has "full confidence" in the commissioner who "has never been accused of personal enrichment." Barrot was given an eight-month suspended sentence in 2000. However, a general amnesty in 1995 by French President Jacques Chirac meant that the case was wiped from record. "The activity in which (Barrot) was involved would disqualify him from holding public office in many EU member states," said Graham Watson, leader of the liberals, who urged common rules on the matter. The new commission will take up office on Monday following a turbulent few weeks where Italian commission nominee Rocco Buttiglione was rejected after expressing conservative views on gays and the role of women in society. Latvian Commissioner-designate Ingrida Udre, was also withdrawn after MEPs raised questions about funding irregularities for her political party. (EUobserver.com)

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