19th Feb 2020

Commissioners pressed by Eurostat affair

European Commissioners are being urged to take personal responsibility over the fraud cases in the EU statistical office, Eurostat, if an internal report shows that they did not take the necessary steps against alleged corruption and fraud.

The Commission insists on its rhetoric that it "could not act before as [it] did not know" -although fraud has been ongoing for over 3 years - and the Commission has so far emerged unscathed over this affair.

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An internal report by the Commission due by the end of September is expected to shed more light over the case, although it is not expected to point fingers at any Commissioner but only to the officials.

Very seriuos

Hans-Gert Poettering, German MEP and leader of the Conservative group in the European Parliament described this issue as "very serious", and expects that personal responsibility is taken by the Commissioners involved in the case.

"I can't accept that lack of knowledge of a Commissioner as an excuse," he said.

He also recalled that Commission President Romano Prodi has the power to ask any Commissioner to step down, unlike in 1999, when the former President Jacques Santer, could not officially demand that anybody make this move.

The Santer Commission resigned en masse in 1999 over charges of nepotism and mis-management.

Whilst stopping short from naming any Commissioners, Mr Poettering said that now is not the time to name and shame, and prefers instead to wait for the results of the Commission's internal report in September, and the report by Olaf, the EU-anti-fraud office in October before making any further announcements.

Romano Prodi, whose Commission had pledged 'zero-tolerance' on fraud and mis-management when it took office, will appear before the meeting of the political group leaders on 25 September, with members of the Budgetary Control Committee also attending the meeting.

Mr Prodi will report on the results of the internal Commission investigation into Eurostat and personally answer questions over this affair.

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