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Wednesday, 19 January, 2000, 21:48 GMT
Analysis: Kinnock's reform package

kinnock Neil Kinnock delivered within tight deadline

By European analyst Veronique Kaboha

Commissioner Neil Kinnock has published proposals to begin the task of cleaning up the European Commission.

Reforms were demanded in the wake of a corruption and mismanagement scandal that resulted in the unprecedented mass resignation of the former Commission in March 1999.

Systems reforms
Set priorities every 14 months to focus available resources
New unit to advise on more efficient working methods
Comprehsive overhaul of human resources policies in recruitment, promotion, training, and management
Mr Kinnock has delivered his proposals within the February deadline he set himself when the new European Commissioners took office in September.

The reform proposals fall into three categories:

  • Increased internal and public accountability
  • New operational systems
  • Major changes in management of finance and people.

The reforms also propose beefed-up disciplinary procedures backed by sanctions fitting the offence.

The commission has published a timetable and a specific action plan which outline when each reform action will be begun. All of the reforms are intended to be in place by 2002.

Unions threat

Mr Kinnock relies on the support of the European Parliament and the council of EU foreign ministers to approve his reforms as they go through the normal legislative path.

Management reforms
New units responsible for spending within each directorate
Commission-wide audit unit to ensure proper spending of funds
Careers guidance unit to match staff with jobs and training
Mediation service for staff to report non-fraudulent wrongdoing
However, the plans are likely to arouse the ire of entrenched and militant eurocrat trade unions.

Should the unions unite behind one position, they have the power to prevent any reform process from being put in place.

The unions are opposed to any changes in eurocrats' generous systems of salaries and allowances, but have only once ever managed to unite behind the same position.

The situation is reminiscent of Mr Kinnock's purging of the Militant Tendency within the UK Labour party and his modernising reforms of the party in the 1980s.

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