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Wednesday, March 17, 1999 Published at 18:50 GMT


World: Europe

How did your commissioner fare?



Bureaucrats often have a bad name - and the 20 European Commissioners have been no exception this week.

EU in crisis
But are the £125,000-a-year commissioners faceless bureaucrats? Who are they, and how well have they performed?

BBC News Online, here with the help of Oana Lungescu, who reports on the day-to-day activities of the European Commission for the 13 language services of the BBC World Service, puts faces to the "faceless".

Jacques Santer (Luxembourg)


[ image: Jacques Santer was accused of presiding over mismanagement]
Jacques Santer was accused of presiding over mismanagement
President of the commission. Only won the job by default, in 1994, when disagreements ruled out the main contenders.

Allegations against him were said to be unfounded by the independent report, but he was accused of presiding over mismanagement.

Poorly-advised over the report - his naivety in trying to defend himself has sealed his fate.


Martin Bangemann (German)


[ image: Martin Bangemann prefers home to Brussels at weekends]
Martin Bangemann prefers home to Brussels at weekends
Industrial affairs, information and technology commissioner.

Known to have a vision for the future of European industry, and will be remembered for liberalisation of the telecoms industry.

But also regularly absent from Brussels at weekends and is looking forward to retiring.

Ritt Bjerregaard (Danish)

Environment commissioner. Known for publishing extracts from her book, Diary of a Commissioner, in a Danish newspaper, in which she was critical of bureaucracy and colleagues. Since then, has been dubbed "as invisible as CO2".

Emma Bonino (Italian)

In charge of fisheries, consumer affairs and humanitarian aid. Probably the most flamboyant of the 20, a chain-smoking feminist, who was arrested by the Taleban militia in Afghanistan when she took a film crew to document conditions in a hospital.

She managed to talk them round, earning an apology in the process.

Her hard work enables her to keep control of her wide responsibilities.

Leon Brittan (British)

Commission vice-president and responsible for external affairs. Well-respected for his intellect, and by East Europeans in particular, for his interest in EU enlargement.

Would have been keen to take on the EU enlargement portfolio.

Hans van den Broek (Dutch)

Commissioner for relations with central and Eastern Europe. His work on enlargement has earned him a high profile in northern countries.

Known to respond cuttingly to criticism and known for thinking out loud. Once sang songs from My Fair Lady to members of his cabinet. His daughter married a member of the Dutch royal family.

Edith Cresson (French)

Responsible for education, training, science and research. Bore the brunt of blame for corruption, after appointing her dentist as an "adviser".

A former French prime minister and protégé of President Mitterand, who liked her feistiness. But to the rest of the world, it came over as arrogance.

In a poll of 32 Brussels-based journalists experienced in EU affairs, conducted by Paris-based l'Expansion magazine, Mme Cresson came last.

Famous for saying one in four British men was gay. Defiant in the face of criticism.

Joao de Deus Pinheiro (Portuguese)

Commissioner for relations with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries and South Africa and a former Portuguese foreign minister. Has remained relatively low-profile. Was criticised in the report for appointing his brother-in-law to a cabinet post.

Franz Fischler (Austrian)


[ image:
"Knows what he's talking about": Franz Fischler
agriculture commissioner. Well-respected because his background in agriculture means "he knows what he's talking about". Handled the BSE crisis and now involved in reform of the controversial Common Agricultural Policy.

Padraig Flynn (Irish)

In charge of employment and social affairs. His career has been considered compromised after allegations of financial wrong-doing and after he made insensitive remarks over wages.

Anita Gradin (Swedish)

Immigration, justice and home affairs commissioner. Known as "Granny Gradin", for her dowdy dress sense and because, at 65, she is the oldest commissioner. Considered to have a long-winded approach.

Neil Kinnock (British)

Transport commissioner. Thought to be a sympathetic person and something of a bon-viveur. Believed to be ambitious and keen to stay in Brussels, where his wife, Glenys, is an MEP.

Erkki Lilkanen (Finnish)

In charge of the budget, personnel and administration. Was cleared in the report of accusations of procuring work in Brussels for his wife, and once even gave out her number to journalists to disprove the claims.

Tried to implement staff reforms ruthlessly, and lacks the common touch.

Manuel Marin (Spanish)

Second EC vice-president and commissioner for relations with southern Mediterranean, Latin America and the Middle East.

Mismanagement has been uncovered in the Mediterranean programmes but Mr Marin has escaped serious condemnation. Keeps a low profile.


[ image: Powerful and popular: Karel van Miert]
Powerful and popular: Karel van Miert
Karel van Miert (Belgian)

Competition commissioner. Polled top by the EU journalists. A former MEP, he won wide praise in the survey, being described as "brilliant" and "hard-working". One of the most powerful of the 20.


Mario Monti (Italian)

In charge of internal market policy, customs and taxation.

A former professor and one of the few commissioners who is not an ex-politician. Considered quiet and hard-working, he said he finished a proposal on VAT only hours before stepping down.

Marcelino Oreja (Spanish)

In charge of relations with the European Parliament, culture and audiovisual policy.

Christos Papoutsis (Greek)

Energy and tourism commissioner. Likely to find "seminars" back home in Greece to attend at weekends. Known for liberating the energy sector.

Yves-Thibault de Silguy (French)

Economic and financial affairs. His role, effectively overseeing the introduction of the euro, has put him in the spotlight. Came second out of 20 in the journalists poll. Described as having "impeccable" know-how.

Monika Wilf-Mathies (German)


[ image: Monika Wulf-Mathies was condemned for nepotism]
Monika Wulf-Mathies was condemned for nepotism
In charge of regional policy and aid. Until publication of the independent report, she had been considered honourable.

Well-liked by southern EU countries for ensuring they received their share of aid.

But after Edith Cresson, she was the most heavily criticised in the report, over the appointment of a friend, which "bordered on inappropriate".



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