Members of the European Parliament are discussing how they can improve their investigation methods after their recent failure to reveal a Commissioner’s past conviction.
MEPs have been stung by the fact that their hearings, which they billed as tough in-depth examinations of Commissioners, failed to turn up something as serious as a prior conviction for illegal party funding -- as was the case for French Commissioner Jacques Barrot. Head of the European Socialists Poul Nyrup Rasmussen on Tuesday said, "We could go to the US and see how they do it there," said the Danish MEP. The US Congress can block an individual cabinet nominee put forward by a president – the European Parliament, by contrast, can only approve or reject the whole team of Commissioners. Barrot’s past only came to light when UK eurosceptic MEP Nigel Farage last week revealed it minutes before the European Parliament voted the whole team into office. And this was despite the fact that Barrot had been heard twice by MEPs -- once when he first came to office in April and then again in October when he was reconfirmed as France's Commissioner. Rasmussen conceded that a substantial change to the current system so that MEPs could reject one Commissioner are a long way off. This would imply a treaty change, and therefore agreement by governments. "Let’s get the Constitution treaty accepted first," said Rasmussen. ( EUObserver.com)