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Thursday, 16 December, 1999, 17:28 GMT
S&M at the EC

kinnock Neil Kinnock admits to 'a degree of enjoyment' in his job

European Commission vice-president Neil Kinnock has likened his job reforming Brussels bureaucracy to "sadomasochism".

The former Labour leader, who started the party's modernisation and reform in the 1980s is now in charge of re-organising the EC's finances, and tackling sleaze.

The job is proving a challenge as the commission has not changed its financial auditing system since the 1950s, Mr Kinnock told the New Statesman magazine.

When asked if he was enjoying his work Mr Kinnock said: "Enjoying myself? Sadomasochism has never been one of my pleasures.

Long road ahead

"There's a degree of enjoyment as we get things done, but the more successful we are in carrying out administrative reforms, the less anyone will know about it."

The commission vice-president has no illusions about the length of the task ahead.

"Maybe in four or five years time people will start to say that the commission is functioning better."

Turning to his campaign to clean-up the way appointments are made Mr Kinnock said he was introducing new training schemes and personnel procedures, with the emphasis on "merit" for top appointments.

Putting the flag 'in perspective'

He acknowledged: "In many cases in the past the national flag came first.

"Now we're putting the flag in its proper perspective.

"This is a money-handling institution and, therefore, by changing the financial management, you change all the other structures and the ethos itself."

Although his job may be tough Mr Kinnock said he had no choice but to take up the challenge.

"There are some jobs you are asked to do and you can't say 'no' because if you did you'd have trouble shaving for the rest of your life.

"I've always preached the importance of modernisation and good governance. I had to do it."

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See also:
02 Dec 99 |  UK Politics
Two Sword Lengths: Part III
19 Nov 99 |  Europe
EU fraud: a billion dollar bill
30 Sep 99 |  Europe
European Commission axes perks

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