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Wednesday, September 1, 1999 Published at 21:57 GMT 22:57 UK

World: Europe

EU chief demands support

Romano Prodi: A public warning to the parliament

By Europe correspondent Colin Blane

The incoming president of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, has urged the European Parliament to confirm his team for a full five years rather than the probationary three-month period.

EU in crisis
Mr Prodi said he would not accept such a limited mandate, which was favoured by some parliamentarians.

His ultimatum comes less than halfway through a series of sometimes bruising hearings.

During them, his team of commissioners has been questioned closely about their knowledge and their suitability for the posts.

Mr Prodi has stopped short of saying he will resign, but his statement is uncomprising.

Probation suggested

It seems to have been provoked by a suggestion from the centre-right European People's Party that they might not approve the incoming team of commissioners unreservedly.

Instead, the EPP leader said the European Parliament might put the commissioners on probation, voting them in on 15 September, as expected, but then voting again three months later after monitoring their performance.

Mr Prodi, who has already been given a five-year mandate as commission president, insisted on the same terms for his 19 commissioners.

He urged members of the European Parliament to think of the need for stability, effectiveness and accountability.

Mr Prodi's public warning that he wants a final verdict on his team in two weeks' time is evidence of continuing tensions between the European Parliament and the Commission it monitors.

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