Friday, November 26, 2004

L’affaire Barrot – fini?

At least we got something right. As flagged up in our previous posting, it now looks as if the wheel is not going to fall off the Barrot. The transport commissioner is going to keep his job.

After the Socialists in the EU parliament kicked the issue into the long grass, referring it to the parliamentary lawyers, it was almost certain that l'affaire was going nowhere, and so it has come to pass.

Now the parliament's legal service has stated that Barrot "cannot be blamed of any misconduct for not having disclosed a conviction", on the basis that he had been given an amnesty by the French authorities. This left EU parliament president Josep Borrell, with obvious relief, to announce that: "This opinion confirms that legally nothing can be held against Mr Barrot".

Informed opinion in the parliament suggest that the key lay in the French socialists (as we surmised) and it appears they did not have the stomach for a fight – not least because they have too many skeletons in their own cupboards.

That has not stopped UKIP's Nigel Farage from trying to get the matter raised formally in the EU parliament but, as the party's site attests, he has got absolutely nowhere, leading to accusations of a "stitch-up".

The only option Farage had was to get the Conference of Presidents of the parliament to agree to set aside time for a debate. This body, made up of the heads of the political groups, decides the agendas, and – led by an undefeatable axis of the socialists and the EPP - has blocked his request.

(Oddly enough, Farage refers to the "Council of Presidents" and you would think, after all his many years in the parliament, he would by now know the name of its ruling body.)

Anyhow, unless Farage can drag up some more dirt on the commissioner, that seems to be the end of the matter – for the time being – although we can rest in the comfort that the EP is quite happy with one of the EU commissioners being a convicted fraudster. This will come back to haunt them.

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