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Saturday, July 10, 1999 Published at 00:17 GMT 01:17 UK

World: Europe

Prodi's blueprint for Brussels

Romano Prodi, the incoming European Commission president, take up his appointment promising a new approach after the mass resignation of commissioners amid sleaze allegations.

EU in crisis
His stated goal is to rid the Brussels hierarchy of its bureaucratic image, thereby removing suspicions that it is a breeding-ground for cronyism and corruption.

Mr Prodi wants a commission that "will have the powers, the political awareness and the will to work as a team, to improve efficiency and transparency and to express a strong political programme."

The new president has said he is in a better position than any of his predecessors to put together a "high calibre team", because he has the right to veto nominees to the Commission made by national leaders.

His two new vice-presidents will have fixed areas of responsibility rather than holding unrelated portfolios in the Commission.

  • The UK's Neil Kinnock will be responsible for Commission reform, combating fraud, the budget and personnel
  • Spain's Loyola de Palacio will be responsible for relations with the European Parliament and institutional reform

Co-ordination and integration

Mr Prodi has initiated new structures in the Commission's departments to "ensure the integration of portfolios that require co-operation".

As a result the Agriculture and Fisheries departments are being merged. So are the departments for Justice and Home Affairs.

Commissioners' private offices or 'cabinets' are being urged to be more supranational to "serve as an instrument supporting the policies developed by the President and the Commissioners."

In the past these cabinets have often been made up of nationals from the same country as the commissioner without the expertise required by the commissioner's portfolio.

Mr Prodi wants to introduce a system where areas of autonomy and individual responsibility are clearly defined, as are methods and instruments for exercising control.

But political responsibility will remain with the commissioners and, ultimately with the president.

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