Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What is Herman hiding?

Nigel Farage, the UKIP leader has just recived an answer to a question he posed to Council President Herman van Rompuy. If brevity is the soul of wit, we have just discovered that Herman is one of the funniest men in the world.

Either that or we have him bang to rights. You decide.

First cast you mind back to a story broken by Bruno Waterfield in the Telegraph about the posssible misuse of public assets by Van Rompuy and his family.
Aides for Mr Van Rompuy admitted to The Daily Telegraph that he used official cars and chauffeurs to take him, his wife, four children, two of their spouses and two grandchildren more than 162 miles to France to catch a holiday flight in August.
The story went on,
Officials have told The Daily Telegraph that use of chauffeurs and cars for the benefit of Mr Van Rompuy's family would "seriously bend the rules" in the other Brussels based EU institutions, such as the European Commission or Parliament.
"There are strict rules for Commissioners taking drivers on a mission outside Belgium and on private use of cars. Using chauffeurs and cars for family trips is not permitted," said a Commission official.
A European Parliament spokesman said that the use of official cars for "shopping, or taking family on holidays and that kind of stuff" is not allowed.
Nigel Farage, Ukip's European leader, said: "Preposterous. Mr Van Rompuy is delusional about his importance, but ever so keen to take up the trappings of power. Why are we forking out for chauffeurs for a Eurocrat's grandchildren so they can go on holiday?"

If what Bruno alleges is true and this happened in national politics there should be hell to pay. If Cameron was to do something similar the media and opposition would be frothing, rightly in my view about this cavalier approach to official cars, and this arrogant appropriation for private use of the trappings of office.

So Farage asked a question on the 20th October, at which point it took 8 days to get to the Council,
Is the following, as reported in the Daily Telegraph(1), accurate and, if it is inaccurate, what is actually the case?

‘Aides for Mr Van Rompuy admitted to the Daily Telegraph that he used official cars and chauffeurs to take him, his wife, four children, two of their spouses and two grandchildren more than 162 miles to France to catch a holiday flight in August.

His official motorcade was then waiting for the family group to bring them back to Brussels from Paris when they returned from their private vacation, thought to be in the Caribbean.

The cost of an equivalent trip, hiring three S-class Mercedes cars and drivers from the Brussels based “Belgian Limo” company, would be over GBP 4 000.’

If this is not the case, what are asserted to be the correct facts?
Now the rules governing Parliamentary Questions are quite rigid viz
Other questions (non-priority questions) shall be answered within six weeks of being forwarded to the addressees.
So an answer came back on the, lets see the 1st of December, no lets be nice an allow the first 8 days, the answer came back on the 9th December. Nope not then, the answer came back on the 14th January. To be fair the answer has to be translated into allthe languages of the EU, all 22 of them so these things take time. So given it has taken them ten weeks to come up with an answer you would have thought that it would be a good one wouldn't you. You would be right. Here it is (and brilliantly it is only available on the Parliament's website in Danish)

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Parlamentariske forespørgsler og spørgsmål

4. januar 2011 P-8951/2010
Svar
Det tilkommer ikke Rådet at kommentere artikler i pressen.
We do have a paper version of the answer though,
P-8951/10
Reply
(4 January 2011)

It is not for the Council to comment on articles appearing in the press.
Eh? Run that one past me again, they don't comment on what is in the press! Then what on earth are this lot for, the Council Press team (they even have two on media monitoring - what do they do? Scan the international press to find out what they are not going to comment upon?)
Nicolas KERLEROUX
Head of the Press Office
Tel. +32 (0)2 281 82 39 GSM +32 (0)475 36 96 76
Fax +32 (0)2 281 80 26
nicolas.kerleroux@consilium.europa.eu

SECRETARIAT

Cécile MONIN

Tel. +32 (0)2 281 63 19
Fax +32 (0)2 281 80 26
press.office@consilium.europa.eu

Dominique COCHARD
Tel. +32 (0)2 281 51 56
Fax +32 (0)2 281 80 26
newsdesk@consilium.europa.eu

Patricia SIDAROUS
(CSDP: Common Security and Defence Policy)
Tel. +32 (0)2 281 76 40
Fax + 32 (0)2 281 80 26
presse.psdc@consilium.europa.eu

SUPPORT TO THE EUROPEAN COUNCIL PRESIDENT

Jesús CARMONA

Deputy Spokesperson of President Herman Van Rompuy
Tel. +32 (0)2 281 95 48 GSM +32 (0)475 65 32 15
Fax +32 (0)2 281 80 26
jesus.carmona@consilium.europa.eu

Carla VALTORTA
Tel. +32 (0)2 281 63 98
Fax +32 (0)2 281 80 26
press.president@consilium.europa.eu

Pilar GONZÁLEZ MURILLO
Tel. +32 (0)2 281 58 78
Fax +32 (0)2 281 80 26
press.president@consilium.europa.eu

PRESS OFFICERS

François HEAD
Economic and Financial Affairs; General Affairs and Foreign Affairs
Tel. +32 (0)2 281 60 83 GSM +32 (0)475 95 38 07
francois.head@consilium.europa.eu

Mary BRAZIER
General Affairs and Foreign Affairs
Tel. +32 (0)2 281 51 83 GSM +32 (0)477 97 08 74
mary.brazier@consilium.europa.eu

Stavros PETROPOULOS
Common Security and Defence Policy
Tel. +32 (0)2 281 83 48 GSM +32 (0)475 75 38 81
stavros.petropoulos@consilium.europa.eu

Céline RUIZ
Common Security and Defence Policy
Tel. +32 (0)2 281 93 33 GSM +32 (0)472 93 20 92
celine.ruiz@consilium.europa.eu

Jochen MÜLLER
Justice and Home Affairs; Coverage of press issues related to coordination in countering terrorism
Tel. +32 (0)2 281 89 14 GSM +32 (0)477 97 42 24
jochen.mueller@consilium.europa.eu

Azadeh SHARAFSHAHI
Coreper II issues; Summits
Tel. +32 (0)2 281 31 95
azadeh.sharafshahi@consilium.europa.eu

Xavier PAVARD
Agriculture and Fisheries
Tel. +32 (0)2 281 83 52 GSM +32 (0)477 99 17 10
xavier.pavard@consilium.europa.eu

Víctor FLAVIÁN
Competitiveness (Internal market, Industry, Research and Space)
Tel. +32 (0)2 281 67 15 GSM: +32 (0)473 64 03 90
victor.flavian@consilium.europa.eu

Miriam VANČOVÁ
TTE (Telecommunications and Energy)
Tel. +32 (0)2 281 97 76 GSM +32 (0)473 64 03 77
miriam.vancova@consilium.europa.eu

Reinhard SCHMIDT
TTE (Transport)
Tel. +32 (0)2 281 88 47 GSM +32 (0)479 95 50 86
reinhard.schmidt@consilium.europa.eu

Susanne KIEFER
Environment; Education, Youth, Culture and Sport; Development Cooperation
Tel. +32 (0)2 281 94 42 GSM +32 (0) 473 92 33 08
susanne.kiefer@consilium.europa.eu

Jérôme UNTERHUBER
Budget; Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs,
Tel. +32 (0)2 281 53 94 GSM +32 (0) 473 92 36 28
jerome.unterhuber@consilium.europa.eu

Dana MANESCU
Crisis management mechanisms; Coordination of the Council public sessions, Videostreaming
Tel. +32 (0)2 281 44 77 GSM +32 (0) 473 92 34 77
dana.manescu@consilium.europa.eu

Zoltan SZELES
Management; Projects
Tel. +32 (0)2 281 31 94
zoltan.szeles@consilium.europa.eu

RESEARCH and DOCUMENTATION

Helena GOMES
Tel. +32 (0)2 281 70 40
helena.gomes@consilium.europa.eu

Reinhard SCHMIDT
Tel. +32 (0)2 281 88 47
reinhard.schmidt@consilium.europa.eu

Evi LIASKOU
Tel. +32 (0)2 281 52 72
evi.liaskou@consilium.europa.eu

CENTRAL SECRETARIAT

Bienvenido PICAZO RUIZ
Tina GROSVENOR
Rita PIOVANO
Anna MADEJ
Tel. +32 (0)2 281 63 19
Fax +32 (0)2 281 80 26
press.office@consilium.europa.eu

PRESS CENTRE

Margarete GILOT-KÖHLER
COUNCILS, COREPER II/EUROPEAN COUNCIL

Tel. +32 (0)2 281 65 50 Fax +32 (0)2 281 85 41
margarete.gilot@consilium.europa.eu

Valerie GOLDSMITH
COUNCILS, COREPER I/PHOTO DEPARTMENT/EUROPEAN COUNCIL

Tel. +32 (0)2 281 89 69 GSM +32 (0)476 76 21 56
Fax +32 (0)2 281 50 65
valerie.goldsmith@consilium.europa.eu

Ana Paula PONTE

Tel. +32 (0)2 281 61 51 or +32 (0)2 281 83 99
Fax +32 (0)2 281 85 41
ana-paula.ponte@consilium.europa.eu

Yvonne VESTBERG
Tel. +32 (0)2 281 66 62 or +32 (0)2 281 83 99
Fax +32 (0)2 281 85 41
yvonne.vestberg@consilium.europa.eu

Technical assistants

Giuseppe FULVO
Tel. +32 (0)2 281 64 16
press.office@consilium.europa.eu

Giuseppe ANCONETANI
Tel. +32 (0)2 281 83 08
press.office@consilium.europa.eu

Stavros SPYRIDONOS
Tel. +32 (0)2 281 88 18
press.office@consilium.europa.eu

AUDIOVISUAL

Counsellor, Head of sector

Isabelle BRUSSELMANS
Tel. +32 (0)2 281 57 13 GSM +32 (0)475 75 34 06
Fax +32 (0)2 281 80 26
isabelle.brusselmans@consilium.europa.eu

Audiovisual production and publication/Multimedia library/Coordination/
Editing

Andrea DESORMEAUX
Maria BRIANCHON
Alexandre MARX
Pavel KAUCKY
Tel. +32 (0)2 281 67 16 GSM +32 (0)477 97 35 52
Fax +32 (0)2 281 80 26
andrea.desormeaux@consilium.europa.eu
presse.audiovisuel@consilium.europa.eu

Tel. +32 (0)2 281 78 20 Fax +32 (0)2 281 80 26
presse.audiovisuel@consilium.europa.eu

Tel. +32 (0)2 281 63 21
alexandre.marx@consilium.europa.eu

Tel. +32 (0)2 281 77 36
pavel.kaucky@consilium.europa.eu

Technicians

Wim MINTEN
Tel. +32 (0)2 281 71 65
wilhelmus.minten@consilium.europa.eu

Jussi VIRTANEN
Tel. +32 (0)2 281 58 61
jussi.virtanen@consilium.europa.eu

Luis Enrique BARQUILLA
GONZÁLEZ
Tel. +32 (0)2 281 54 65
luis-enrique.barquilla-gonzalez@consilium.europa.eu

Toufiq ZIOUI
Tel. +32 (0)2 281 71 16
toufiq.zioui@consilium.europa.eu

Photo

Christos DOGAS
Tel. +32 (0)2 281 71 15 Fax +32 (0)2 281 50 65
service.photo@consilium.europa.eu

Tashana BATISTA
Tel. +32 (0)2 281 63 49 Fax +32 (0)2 281 50 65
service.photo@consilium.europa.eu

Enzo ZUCCHI
Tel. +32 (0)2 281 73 47 Fax +32 (0)2 281 50 65
service.photo@consilium.europa.eu

Mario SALERNO
Tel. +32 (0)2 281 71 88 Fax +32 (0)2 281 50 65
service.photo@consilium.europa.eu

BUDGET / PROJECTS / INTERNET

Etienne SNYDERS
Tel. +32 (0)2 281 64 30
etienne.snyders@consilium.europa.eu

Fernando FRAGUEIRO
Tel. +32 (0)2 281 81 23
fernando.fragueiro@consilium.europa.eu

Laura di ROSA
Tel. +32 (0)2 281 73 67
laura.dirosa@consilium.europa.eu

Antonio FERNÁNDEZ GÓMEZ
Tel. +32 (0)2 281 64 52
antonio.fernandezgomez@consilium.europa.eu

MEDIA MONITORING

Johan SLOTBOOM
Tel. +32 (0)2 281 55 05 Fax +32 (0)2 281 53 35
hans.slotboom@consilium.europa.eu

Joaquín NOGUEROLES GARCIA
Tel. +32 (0)2 281 20 74 Fax +32 (0)2 281 53 35
joaquin.nogueroles-garcia@consilium.europa.eu

Carlo CUMBO
David HEALY
Roberto SALVI
Veronika CAVAGLIERI
Christina PÖSSINGER
Jamal BANI
Katrien LUYTEN
Tel. +32 (0)2 281 63 19
Fax +32 (0)2 281 53 35
media@consilium.europa.eu
Oh, by the way, we are asking some follow up questions,
What are the rules governing the use of offficial cars by officials working for the European Council and their family members?


Is The President of the Council covered by these rules?

What are the rules governing the use of official cars by the President of the European Council.
We expect the answer...  by mid summer....  in Maltese





10 comments:

Eurogoblin said...

Completely agreed, it's ridiculous. Also I hope UKIP, Bruno et al keep up efforts to hold Van Rompuy to account on this.

However (and this is not excusing Van Rompuy's wast of public funds) this sort of thing DOES happen at the national level. Whether it be jetting royals around or MPs expenses. That doesn't mean we should abolish the British system of government - it means the media and pressure groups need to keep a close eye on the actions of officials and hold them to account.

Honestly: I hope you get a better answer out of the Council President's office.

Gawain Towler said...

You are right about National politicians, but they - or at least here in the UK they have a less than supine press that does hold them to account.

Eurogoblin said...

What was Bruno doing if not holding the EU to account?

On the other hand, the Telegraph is slightly more supine when it comes to the royals. When Prince Charles' Phantom VI Rolls-Royce was attacked, they seemed almost proud of the fact that it would have cost "in excess of £1 million to install all of its security measures." True - the limo was a gift, but I imagine the £1 million in security upgrades came from the public purse (and, certainly, the driver and motorbike outriders do).

Now, I'm not actually a republican when it comes to the UK (nor am I particularly in favour - it's a bit of a non-issue for me). However, Charles isn't even the head of state! Yet he gets a limousine to cart him to the theatre and back (and I'd imagine that this happens fairly regularly).

Why no outcry?

Gawain Towler said...

Weird, Facebook flags this post up as abusive, won't let me share it

Eurogoblin said...

Okay, just read that Charles was attending the Royal Variety Performance which you can sort of say is a state function. Sort of.

However, my general point still survives (more or less). Van Rompuy was wrong to go on holiday in an official car, but he was exposed by the press - and the same thing happens in the UK (also, the press don't always do a better job at putting pressure on MPs / royals to spend less public money).

Eurogoblin said...

That'll probably be the long list of phone numbers and email addresses you've included. ;-)

Facebook no doubt assumes you're running an online dating service or some such.

Gawain Towler said...

I am just wondering if those press officers have press officers...

I think in a Constitutional Monarchy the Monarch and the heir to the throne are a slightly special case.

It wouldn't do in a republic, but the systems set up (they give their income to the state - Duchy of Cornwall etc) makes it slightly different

Andrew Smith said...

Test

Andrew Smith said...

Test 2

an_englishman_abroad said...

And today Enda Kenny from Ireland has just travelled Ryanair for the Eurosummit meeting.

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