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Wednesday, July 21, 1999 Published at 19:21 GMT 20:21 UK

World: Europe

EU president seeks public confidence

MEPs will vote on the new commission in September

The President of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, has called for the credibility of the European Union to be rebuilt.

EU in crisis
In a speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg Mr Prodi said the citizens of Europe had lost confidence in European institutions.

He said his aim was to wipe out fraud, cut waste and bureaucracy and put Brussels "at the service of the public".

End to rows

And the commission president made it plain that part of the process of rebuilding confidence in Europe was an end to rows between institutions.

The BBC's Angus Roxburgh: "This could be a new populist commission"
Mr Prodi, who was applauded several times during his address, also urged the European Parliament to back his new commission when it begins hearings into its individual members at the end of August.

He told the 626-member assembly: "It is a top quality team and a well-balanced team. Every member has a proven track record."

[ image:  ]
Mr Prodi promised a "revolution" in the way the commission works, and said he would go so far as to reshuffle portfolios or ask commissioners to resign if they did not perform.

He pointed to the lack of any major change in the commission's organisational structure since the 1950s: "That is why we now have to proceed to a fundamental examination of the way the institution works."

Parliamentary scrutiny

The nominees will be scrutinised by different parliamentary committees between 30 August and 7 September, ahead of a vote on 15 September on whether to approve them.

BBC Correspondent Justin Webb in Strasbourg: Mr Prodi's guiding principle is to make EU more relevant to the public
Parliament has the power to accept or reject the whole package, but cannot veto individual commissioners - unless Mr Prodi can be persuaded to withdraw them.

The new President of the Parliament, Nicole Fontaine, said they would look for competence, transparency and political balance from the new team.

The outgoing commission resigned en masse in March after damning criticism of its handling of corruption in its own ranks.

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