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Thursday, July 8, 1999 Published at 23:02 GMT 00:02 UK

World: Europe

EU job row heads for court

Martin Bangemann's case is the latest in a series of scandals for the commission

European Union ambassadors have unanimously recommended that a senior EU commissioner should face court action for taking a lucrative job in the private sector.

Jonathan Beale explains why this row may go to court
The process could see the EU Industry Commissioner, Martin Bangemann, punished by losing his public pension and being formally stripped of his duties.

EU in crisis
Mr Bangemann caused a furore last week when he announced he would be joining the board of the Spanish company Telefonica for £700,000 a year, with immediate effect.

He stands accused of displaying a blatant conflict of interests in accepting the boardroom job.

The company is market leader in telecoms - the sector Mr Bangemann helped regulate.

Commissioners pledge that they will behave with integrity and discretion in accepting jobs after their Commission posts end.

Although Mr Bangemann says he has done nothing wrong, he has already been relieved of his responsibilities over the telecoms industry.

Public relations disaster

His action has been widely condemned by EU leaders.

EU foreign ministers are expected to back the stand taken by their ambassadors by Friday afternoon.

The recommendation calls for the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg to establish whether Mr Bangemann broke EU rules.

The court would have the power to block Mr Bangemann's EU pension rights as punishment.

Mr Bangemann would normally be entitled to a monthly pension of around 7,400 euros ($7,580) when he turns 65 in November.

The BBC Europe Correspondent, Jonathan Beale, says the EU is anxious to end allegations of sleaze and corruption, following a series of damaging public relations disasters for the Commission.

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