Thursday, May 12, 2005

The Latsis affair

3rd February 2005

Nigel Farage put in a Parliamentary question to all 25 Commissioners.


by Nigel Farage (IND/DEM)

to the Commission

Subject: Hospitality

Following concerns about political propriety raised amongst the general public by stories in the British press concerning leading politicians and outside interests (such as the case of the First Minister in Scotland and the senior BBC journalist Kirsty Wark, and the free flights provided for British Prime Minister Blair and his family by the Royal Air Force), in the spirit of transparency and openness, can the Commission indicate those occasions when Commissioner Barroso, since being nominated as Commissioner Designate, has been in receipt of hospitality, for instance as a holiday guest, and from whom?

One week later he was told that he couldn't ask this question to all 25 simultaneously.

The question was resubmitted as a general question.

12th April 2005

In a closed meeting the Commission discussed the question. Barroso asked everybody to tell the college what hospitality they had received as gifts.

From what we understand there was a major row with, mostly eastern European, Commissioners demanding honesty and others saying that in no way should the question be answered.

At this point Peter Mandelson admitted to his colleagues that he had spent time on the Island of St Bartholomy in the Caribbean. Those who wished to cover everything up won the debate. Barroso however did inform the President of Parliament of the truth.

18th April 2005

Due to a leak from the Commission the German newspaper Die Welt published a report on the story.

11 am the Commission sent an answer to Mr Farage

E-0774/05EN to E-0798/05EN

Answer given by Mr Barroso

on behalf of the Commission


The Honourable Member has asked the Commission twenty-five separate questions but all with the same subject, namely to indicate those occasions when each member of the College, since being nominated as Commissioner designate, has been in receipt of hospitality, for instance as a holiday guest, and from whom.

The principles governing the behaviour of Commissioners are laid down in Article 213(2) of the EC Treaty and Article 126 of the Euratom Treaty. In order to ensure compliance with these principles, in September 1999 the Commission adopted a Code of Conduct for Commissioners (SEC(1999) 1479). An amended version was adopted in November 2004 (SEC(2004) 1487/2). The Code requires them, in their official and private lives, to behave in a manner that is in keeping with the dignity of their office and to rule out all risks of a conflict of interest. The Code then lays down a number of rules concerning both their activities as Commissioners and their private activities.

The Commission considers that insofar as it falls outside the exercise of official duties, the receipt of hospitality is a normal fact of private life, and therefore falls in principle under the respect for privacy of each individual Commissioner and of those who host them.

Naturally, the behaviour of Commissioners, including in relation to the receipt of hospitality, must be compatible with the principles of the Treaties.

Within this framework and at the request of the President, a verification has taken place with the twenty-five members of the College concerning the occasions referred to by the Honourable Member. No such occasions that would infringe the principles of the Treaties have been identified. The Commission would of course be ready to clarify any specific situation brought to its attention.

The Commission deny that the answer was sent because the story had already leaked out. Over the following few days the story dominated the Commission's daily midday briefings. The particular interest in the story came from the German and British press.

In the briefings Françoise Le Bail the Commission's chief spokesman made a number of statements.

Barroso had spent a week with his family on Mr Latsis's yacht. The holiday was worth 20-25,000 euros. The Commission also claimed that it need not talk about hospitality as they had the competence to decide on whether a gift ´was a conflict of interest.

20th April 2005

Martin Schultz PSE and Graham Watson ALDE both issue statements demanding answers from Barroso as it has become clear that Barroso is now in charge of the Maritime brief in the Commission after Nelie Kroes had turned it down out of fear of conflict of interests (she is a former director of P&O Nedloyd). He insists that he will keep the job

22nd April 2005

Barroso writes letter to Borrell rejecting any wrongdoing. Schultz and Watson back down

4th May 2005

Barroso drops his supervision of antitrust cases affecting the shipping industry. Again he denies that it has anything to do with the case.

Farage discovers via North's blog " that Latsis received a great wodge of cash only a month after the holiday.

9th May 2005

Farage attempts to have an oral question heard. Parliament votes 147 v 28 against debating the issue

11th May 2005

77 signatures accompany the motion of censure that was handed in to the Secretary General of Parliament.

The European Parliament,

- having regard to the EC Treaty with especial reference to Article 201,

- having regard to Rule 100 of its Rules of Procedure,

A. raises this motion of censure as its only tool to have the Commission President José Barroso to appear before it in plenary to explain how he could receive a gift to a value of several thousands euros from a billionaire businessman who then one month later, received the green light from the European Commission for a regional aid grant to a value of 10 million Euros.

1. Censures the Commission for this reason.

2. Instructs its President to forward this motion of censure to the Commission and notify the President of the Council and the President of the Commission of the results of the vote.


The reasons for censure are set out in the motion itself. However it is prepared to withdraw this motion of censure if it gets a reasonable explanation in plenary and clear rules obliging all commissioners to register all gifts of substantial value.

The results of this means that at the Brussels mini plenary 25th/26th there will be debate with Mr Barroso having to expalin how it was that Latsis recieved 10 milliuon euro a mere month after the holiday.

The Hall of Fame is the following

Adwent Filip, Allister James Hugh, Attard-Montalto John, Baco Peter, Batten Gerard, Belder Bastiaan, Blokland Johannes, Bloom Godfrey, Bonde Jens-Peter, Booth Graham, Borghezio Mario, Brie André, van Buitenen Paul, Callanan Martin, Camre Mogens, Chruszcz Sylwester, Clark Derek, Couteaux Paul Marie, Czarnecki Marek, Czarnecki Ryszard, de Brun Bairbre, Evans Jill, Farage Nigel, Giertych Maciej, Goudin Hélène, Grabowski Dariusz, de Groen-Kouwenhoven Elly, Guidoni Umberto, Hannan Daniel, Heaton-Harris Christopher, Helmer Roger, Hudghton Ian, Karatzaferis Georgios, Knapman Roger, Kozlik Sergej, Krarup Ole, Krupa Urszula, Liotard Kartika Tamara, Louis Patrick, Lucas Caroline, Lundgren Niels, McDonald Mary Lou, Markov Helmuth, Martin Hans-Peter, Masiel Jan Tadeusz, Meijer Erik, Mote Ashley, Natrass Michael Henry, Pek Bogdan, Pflüger Tobias, Piotrowski Miroslaw Mariusz, Portas Miguel, Ransdorf Miloslav, Remek Vladimir, Resetartis Karin, Rogalski Bogusław, Rutowicz Leopold Józef, Salvini Matteo, Schlyter Carl, Sinnott Kathy, Sjöstedt Jonas, Speroni Francesco Enrico, Staes Bart, Sumberg David, Svenson Eva-Britt, Titford Jeffrey, Tomczak Witold, Uca Feleknas, Verges Paul, de Villiers Philippe, Wagenknech Sahra, Whittaker John, Wierzejski Wojciech, Wise Thomas, Wohlin Lars, Železný Vladimir, Zimmer Gabriele

12th May 2005

In a desperate attempt to delay the debate past the French Referendum the Parliament services have queried 16 of the signatures, thus forcing the sponsors of the motion to search for the members again. Some have already left Strasbourg.

There is no doubt in my mind that this was a deliberate ploy.

Of course the pressure put on by the party leaders was immense, but, hurrah only 5 removed their names, four Polish peasants and a socialist Swede.
However more joined the throng and at three pm the mtioned was tabled.
Cue a brief song in the

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