Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Remembering everything, and learning nothing

As was said of the Bourbons on their return to power, "they have remembered everything, and learned nothing". That is why it is also said there had to be a second French revolution.

So doth history repeat itself. The disgraced former commissioner Edith Cresson is today due to attend a private hearing of the Commission as part of the investigation into her conduct during the 1999 fraud crisis, which triggered the resignation of the Santer Commission.

Cresson is being asked to explain allegations which could give rise to possible proceedings at the European Court of Justice, if she is found to have acted against her obligations as a commissioner.

She could then face losing her pension rights, or "if it is felt that her explanations are satisfactory then they will just bring the procedure to an end", Eric Mamer, the Commission spokesperson for administrative reform said.

The inquiry had been delayed while Cresson has faced criminal charges after famously employing her live-in dentist to carry out AIDS-related research at a cost of €150,000, a task for which he was uniquely unqualified.

But Cresson is by no means penitent. She plans to tell the hearing that Santer's Commission resigned for "absolutely nothing". "We gave credit to rumours", she has said she will say.

The question now is whether the Commissioners find themselves agreeing with Madame Cresson, re-writing history in the process. If they do, they will demonstrate that they too have remembered everything and learned nothing. In due course, will there have to be another mass resignation?

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