MEPs mere ciphers of the Commission
By Jeffrey TitfordI have always regarded the European Parliament as a pale shadow of the real thing in Westminster. Time and again it provides examples of its ineffectuality and its real position as little more than a rubber-stamp for the European Commission.
By Jeffrey Titford
I have always regarded the European Parliament as a pale shadow of the real thing in Westminster. Time and again it provides examples of its ineffectuality and its real position as little more than a rubber-stamp for the European Commission. In recent weeks, we have had another prime example.
In October, the European Parliament's Budgetary Control Committee, of which I am a member, interviewed the short-listed candidates for Director General of OLAF, the EU's fraud investigation unit. It was my intervention which ensured that the proceedings took place in open Committee and not 'in-camera', i.e. no press or outside observers, as was the original intention. The Committee went through a lengthy process of hearing presentations from each candidate and then questioning them in detail.
The controversial Franz-Herman Bruner, the incumbent Director General, was one of the candidates. It was he that infamously authorised the arrest and incommunicado detention of the investigative journalist Hans-Martin Tillack, whose 'crime' was to expose EU fraud, something you would have thought Herr Bruner might have welcomed. He has also been heavily criticised by the European Court of Auditors because of the 'ineffectiveness' of OLAF.
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With the interview sessions over, the Committee met again and a vote was taken. The clear winner was the Swedish police chief, Bjorn Eriksson. So, you can imagine my disgust when on February 7, 2006, it was blithely announced that the European Commission had decided to re-appoint Franz-Hermann Bruner! The Budgetary Control Committee's recommendation had been completely ignored, making the whole long-winded procedure a pointless charade. The Commission had simply thumbed its nose at us.
I wasn't prepared to let it rest at that and I applied for speaking time in the opening session of the Plenary in Strasbourg, on February 13. In my speech, I pointed out the “utter pointlessness” of the European Parliament and its committee system and made it clear that the “Commission wanted Bruner from the start and that is exactly what it got”. There can be no clearer evidence that an unelected political elite, which has contempt for democracy, is running the EU.
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Still smarting from this experience, I for one, welcome a new initiative being prepared by the non-party political Campaign for an Independent Britain, working alongside the Freedom Association. On St George's Day, they are launching a petition, which unambiguously calls for Britain to leave the European Union. Unlike previous petitions, which have tended toward the over-cautious and used language which has been open to interpretation, this one will be short and to the point.
With Britain's annual net contribution to the EU coffers due to rise in 2007, to a colossal £6 billion and the overall cost of our membership in the region of £40 billion a year, I think it is time that the British people were given an opportunity to have their say. I will be first in the queue to sign the petition.
Jeffrey Titford is lead UKIP Euro MP for the East of England. Readers interested in more information about him can find it on www.jeffreytitfordmep.co.uk