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Wednesday, September 15, 1999 Published at 14:19 GMT 15:19 UK

UK Politics

Tories fail to block Prodi commission

The new commission was backed by 404 votes to 153

The European Parliament has approved the appointment of Romano Prodi and his 19 EU Commissioners, despite Conservative MEPs and others voting against them.

The new commission was endorsed by 404 to 153 at the ballot in Strasbourg on Wednesday.

The BBC's Angus Roxburgh reports: "The commission will be on probation with the people of Europe"
There were 37 abstentions in the vote, which appointed the new commission to serve until 22 January 2005.

The Tory MEPs voted against the commission after Conservative Party leader William Hague said some of the new commissioners were "simply not up to the job".

[ image: Neil Kinnock: Faces Tory opposition]
Neil Kinnock: Faces Tory opposition
The Conservatives were joined by Green MEP Caroline Lucas, some German Christian Democrats, some Italian radicals and Austrian far right MEPs in refusing to endorse the incoming commission.

The Conservatives, who have 36 MEPs, were opposed to four of the new commissioners, including the former leader of the Labour Party Neil Kinnock.

The party also objected to Erkki Liikanen, Mario Monti and Franz Fischler.

They were among the commissioners who resigned en masse earlier this year following allegations of fraud and mismanagement within the EU.

The leader of the Tory MEPs, Edward McMillan-Scott, said they had refused to endorse the new commissioners "because there are not enough first division players in this European team".

He said that, without the being able to single out individuals to "show them the red card", there was no option but to vote to reject the lot.

[ image: Romano Prodi: Wants to reform the commission]
Romano Prodi: Wants to reform the commission
Under EU voting rules, the European Parliament could only endorse or oppose the whole commission, rather than voting for individuals.

Mr McMillan-Scott continued: "The challenges facing Europe in the next millennium are immense.

"There are huge tasks ahead as the EU prepares for enlargement, global free trade and new relations with the developing world.

"Europe must become more competitive, but Tory MEPs feel that many of the new Brussels Euro-bosses are not up to the job."

British Green MEP Caroline Lucas, who voted against appointing the new commission, said she had "a number of grave concerns and reservations".

She said: "To vote in favour, I would need to be able to say that these are commissioners the integrity and good judgement of all of whom are beyond reproach and who the citizens of Europe can wholeheartedly trust.

"I greatly regret, with what I have heard and read over the past few weeks and months, that for a number of commissioners I cannot yet say these things."

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