Monday, May 09, 2005

Gutless MEPs

This Blog's story on the payment of €10 million in state aid to a company owned by Greek billionaire Spiros Latsis following Barroso's holiday on his luxury yacht (here and here) has reached the EU parliament in Strasbourg.

But attempts by UKIP MEP Nigel Farage to call Barroso to the parliament to give an account of his actions, and the potential for conflict of interest, have been blocked by MEPs. They rejected a motion this afternoon calling for him to give an oral explanation by 147 votes to 29 in favour.

Farage believes he has shown Barroso and the commission at their worst - out of touch, off hand, and anti-democratic. "His refusal to answer a question posed by an MEP because he found it personally inconvenient was quite disgraceful", he says. However, Conservative MEPs were under a three-line whip to reject the motion and most complied, together with their colleagues in the EPP group, thus refusing to support moves to bring the commission president to book.

The Independence/Democracy Group is now seeking 72 signatures from MEPs to support the tabling of a motion of censure against Barroso. If they are successful, the vote will be held on 27 May, two days before the French referendum. But, whether 72 MEPs have the cojones to take on the commission remains to be seen.

Given the gutless behaviour of the Tory MEPs, don't hold your breath.