Thursday, September 30, 2004

Would Marta Andreasen agree?

The fate of Marta Andreasen, the commission’s now suspended former chief accountant, has been well recorded. It was she who went public with claims that the EU’s €100bn annual budget was exposed to waste and fraud, and it is an open secret that she is about to be dismissed.

But what is so utterly chilling is her account of her formal interview with the Commission yesterday, when this body was supposed to make an impartial assessment of whether Ms Andreasen had broken the rules.

Facing Romano Prodi and his team, she recalls how they listened in silence for 45 minutes while she insisted she had acted in the public interest. But she could see it was to no avail. "I could see a couple of commissioners were listening to what I had to say, but I know the decision has been made," she said. "I am going to be fired."

That it was already a foregone conclusion speeks volumes for the commission. She now believes she will be fired sometime before Prodi steps down on 31 October, to clear the way for the new commission.

Incidentally, in my account of Gary Titley’s speech to the Labour Party conference yesterday, I missed out his gushing praise of Neil Kinnock:
We are sorry to lose Neil Kinnock", he said. "Neil has done a tremendous job in his 10 years in the Commission. First he got to grips with transport policy. Then he modernised the European Commission and made it more accountable both politically and financially. Neil has been an inspiration to us all.
I am not sure Ms Andreasen would agree.

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