Friday, October 08, 2004

Of what possible use are MEPs?

The unctious monthly newsletter from Caroline Jackson MEP’s office details with much jolliness and self-congratulation the many wonderful things she and her colleagues do in the European Parliament. It is full of phrases like
“The Parliament has met twice since the election, and MEPs are settling down.”
How very nice for them. Meeting twice between June and October? I hope they do not get overtired.

Then she gets a few kicks into UKIP – a great menace in the west country, where farmers, fishermen and sundry others are getting distinctly fed up with the European Union and beginning to desert from all the parties to the one whose policy is complete withdrawal.

The most extraordinary part of the missive is the last paragraph. It desrves to be quoted in full:

“At the end of September we began the Committee hearings of the nominees to the new Commission. As I write Peter Mandelson waits to be grilled but we have examined Stavros Dimas, the Greek nominee for the environment portfolio. His nomination was a surprise: Greece has the worst record in the EU for compliance with environmental law and he was seen as a sign that Barroso was downgrading what had been a very active new legislation machine under the out-going Swedish Commissioner, Mrs Wallstrom. But there are hopeful signs. Dimas is a former Wall Street lawyer and Greek finance minister, and he set out his main priority as improving the implementation of existing EU environment legislation through “determined enforcement”. He also strongly supports our idea of “price tags “ on new laws, or, in the jargon, “impact assessments”. We will be voting on him, and all the others, in a collective vote of approval later in October.”
I like that idea of a collective vote of approval. It does so remind me of another political system that largely disappeared at the beginning of the nineties. And isn’t it a good idea that the new Greek Environment Commissioner shows every sign of pulling his socks up and re-cranking the “very active legislation machine” that Margot Wallström had put into place. Wouldn’t want the five year plan for legislation to fall off, would we now.

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