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Tuesday, August 31, 1999 Published at 22:26 GMT 23:26 UK

World: Europe

MEPs quiz more commissioners

MEPs spend three hours questioning each commissioner-designate

The European Parliament has been carrying out a second day of hearings to establish whether nominees to the new European Commission are fit to take up office.

EU in crisis
The members of the European Parliament have been pressing the commissioners-designate on a range of issues, including what they would do to combat fraud.

Among those under the spotlight on Tuesday were Germany's Michaele Schreyer, who would be responsible for the European Union's budget in the new Commission, and Finland's Erkki Liikanen, the designated commissioner for industry and the information society.

Ms Schreyer stressed she would keep a tight rein on the EU budget. She also said any suspicion of fraud within the new Commission should be investigated.

Click here for a full list of the prospective new commissioners

[ image: Michaele Schreyer (right) with hearing chairman Terry Wynn]
Michaele Schreyer (right) with hearing chairman Terry Wynn
"There should be agreement ... that mismanagement and a poor use of funds cannot be tolerated, and particularly fraud must be combated," she said.

Ms Schreyer told the MEPs that she would like the EU to have revenue-raising powers, saying this would stop arguments over which countries benefit most from the EU budget.

She said that she would also not wait until an already-agreed 2006 deadline before launching a review of the way the EU finances itself.

[ image: Poul Nielson: Commerce and aid weapons in poverty fight]
Poul Nielson: Commerce and aid weapons in poverty fight
Mr Liikanen said the EU should foster a job-creation culture similar to that in the United States. He said the EU should "look for ways to maintain labour rights without increasing individual labour costs on companies".

Poul Nielson, commissioner-designate for development and humanitarian aid, also came in for questioning.

He pledged stronger EU participation to "eradicate poverty", using a mixture of commerce and aid.

More commissioners-designate are set to come under the spotlight on Wednesday. They include: Mario Monti, Guenter Verheugen, Philippe Busquin and Pedro Solbes Mira.

The BBC's Colin Blane reports on Tuesday's hearings
The MEPs will vote on 15 September on whether or not the new Commission should take office. The parliamentarians can only approve or reject the team as a whole.

That would plunge the European Union into a new crisis and analysts say it is unlikely to happen.

Conservative members of the European Parliament say they will try to prevent the re-appointment of the four commissioners from the old body.

But a spokesman for incoming Commission President Romano Prodi said only new and fundamental facts of improper conduct unearthed during these hearings would persuade him to make changes.

The appointments list

The Commission is responsible for proposing EU legislation and for ensuring member states comply with it.

France, Germany, Britain, Spain and Italy supply two commissioners each, and the remaining 10 countries one each.

  • President: Romano Prodi (Italy)
  • Vice-President: Neil Kinnock (UK) - administrative reforms
  • Vice-President: Loyola de Palacio (Spain) - relations with EU parliament, transport, energy
  • Franz Fischler (Austria) - agriculture, fisheries
  • Mario Monti (Italy) - competition
  • Erkki Liikanen (Finland) - information society, companies
  • Michel Barnier (France) - regional policy
  • Pascal Lamy (France) - trade
  • Poul Nielsen (Denmark) - development, humanitarian aid
  • Frits Bolkestein (Netherlands) - single market
  • Chris Patten (UK) - external relations
  • Michaele Schreyer (Germany) - budget
  • Guenter Verheugen (Germany) - enlargement
  • Pedro Solbes Mira (Spain) - economic and monetary affairs
  • Anna Diamantopoulou (Greece) - employment, social affairs
  • Antonio Vitorino (Portugal) - justice, home affairs
  • David Byrne (Ireland) - health, consumer protection
  • Philippe Busquin (Belgium) - research
  • Margot Wallstroem (Sweden) - environment
  • Viviane Reding (Luxembourg) - education, culture

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