Wednesday, November 14, 2007

No. Not a hypocritical coward after all

Seems to be the answer to my previous question and the strange case of Bob Atkin's amendment quashing his own report. Stupid yes, but not a hypocrite.

Remember that Paul Van Buitenen wrote to him last night,

Dear Mr. Pöttering,

In May 2005, the EU Ombudsman issued a Special Report on maladministration by OLAF concerning its bribery claim against German journalist Mr. Tillack and the misleading information that OLAF provided to the Ombudsman during his inquiry into this matter. The European Ombudsman formally requested the European Parliament to issue an official opinion on his Special Report.For more than two years, the EP Committee on Petitions, and its Committee rapporteur, Sir Robert Atkins, have tried to prepare a report on this subject, but they were stopped on several occasions by the Conference of Presidents, arguing that the case was sub judice. An official legal opinion substantiating this argument was never shown. Now there is an amendment, tabled by Sir Robert Atkins on behalf of the EPP Group to the report Iturgaiz on the 2006 activities of the Petitions Committee, seeking to close Parliament's procedures concerning the Ombudsman's Special Report to Parliament on OLAF.

The judgment of the European Court of First Instance of 4 October 2006, on which the amendment relies, does not, in fact, provide justification for closing Parliament's procedures on the Special Report. The judgement never dealt with the specific subject of the Ombudsman's Special Report to Parliament, that is, the fact that OLAF misled the Ombudsman when he was carrying out an inquiry into a complaint.On the contrary, the judgment clearly states that: "the classification of an act of maladministration by the Ombudsman does not mean, in itself, that OLAF's conduct constitutes a sufficiently serious breach of a rule of law within the meaning of the case-law. In the institution of the Ombudsman, the Treaty has given citizens of the Union, and more particularly officials and other servants of the Community, an alternative remedy to that of an action before the Community Courts in order to protect their interests. That alternative non-judicial remedy meets specific criteria and does not necessarily have the same objective as judicial proceedings".

Thus, considering that the amendment is based on wrong premises, and considering the serious institutional implications of the amendment if it were adopted in the voting tomorrow, I ask you to declare it inadmissible pursuant to Rule 151(3).

Yours sincerely,

Paul van Buitenen

OK here is Bob's response:

"Please note that, as the Rapporteur for the Special Report of the Ombudsman I intend - and have always intended - to raise this unfinished business now that the Judicial process is completed.

I have spoken accordingly to the Ombudsman and will be asking for this item to be on the earliest available agenda for the Petitions Committee. Any suggestion that the report is to be "lost" or "swept under the carpet" is wholly without foundation. It is however important to remember that the subject of the complaint is NOT the activities of the journalist, but only the manner in which OLAF responded the the (sic) enquiries of the Ombudsman. As such it is largely an administrative matter and could be disposed of relatively quickly.

Rt Hon Sir Robert Atkins MEP
Bob, put it this way. The Conference of President's has already said that if your amendment passed then that would be the end of it. Now the amendment has been passed, and though it has been put on the agenda for tomorrow's CoP meeting the EPP and the PSE are against you getting the report. At no time, other than in the amendment that you signed has the report been about anything other than the relationship between the Ombudsman and OLAF. Van Buitenen's letter makes that clear. Everybody knows this and the only suggestion otherwise is from you.

So though I take your good faith in this matter as read, that doesn't excuse the fact that you alone seem to have thought that the Court of First Instance case had anything to do with the Special Report. As the Rapporteur this is extraordinary, and a dereliction of your responsibility. Whichever EPP adviser told you differently when they stuffed the pre-written amendment under your nose for your signature was pulling the wool over your eyes and you fell for it.

And aren't you one of those chaps who strongly opposed the suggestion of leaving the EPP as it would undermine the influence of the Conservatives in the European Parliament. As you wrote to The Times:

Sir - We profoundly disagree with the minority of our colleagues (Letters, October 1) who have always disliked our European Democrats (ED) group associating with the European People's Party (EPP) as the EPP/ED Group.

By working within this larger group, Conservative MEPs ensured the appointment of a centre-Right commission president who is slowly but surely driving EU reform. Within this group, we are leading a reshaping of the EU social policy agenda and driving completion of the single market. We are proud to be punching well above our weight, pursuing the manifesto commitments on which we were elected with vigour and without compromise.

We believe in seeking out where the real action is, rather than fleeing to the margins. We believe that, to be a credible alternative government, Conservatives need to work with EU centre-Right colleagues whose parties are already in government. We believe that, in the EU, just as in Britain, the Left is the main enemy - and that when the Right is divided, the Left prevails.

Richard Ashworth MEP, Sir Robert Atkins MEP, Christopher Beazley MEP, John Bowis MEP, Philip Bushill-Matthews MEP, Giles Chichester MEP, James Elles MEP, Jonathan Evans MEP, Malcolm Harbour MEP, Caroline Jackson MEP, Edward McMillan Scott MEP, John Purvis MEP, Struan Stevenson MEP, Brussels.
Got to love your influence now.

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