In Defence of 'Sniping'
European Voice - January 6th 2003
The article by David Cronin, 'Patten takes on "sniping" Tories over Middle East' (European Voice, 28 November - 4 December), is somewhat misleading.
First, although it is true to say that Commissioner Patten belongs to the Conservative Party, he was not the official nominee of the UK opposition Conservatives (in fact Alistair Goodlad MP was) and he was sent as the second UK Commissioner by Labour Prime Minister Blair to Brussels. In fairness to Commissioner Patten he has observed the oath of office strictly by eschewing national allegiances and party politics unlike his Spanish counterpart Loyola de Palacio who at times appears as the spokesman for her sister in Madrid. The most recent example being when she blamed for domestic political reasons the Prestige environmental disaster on a lack of port inspection by Gibraltar when the tanker was in fact bound for Singapore and had called recently at many ports, including some in Spain.
You do not comment on the fact that my revelation that the International Monetary Fund does not monitor the Palestinian budget in spite of Commissioner Patten's assurances to the contrary went unanswered. Instead you reported the fact that my genuine disquiet that Portugal, which is a country and government I hold in the highest esteem having grown up there, is unsupportive of the EU travel bans on the despicable ZANU-PF Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe and President Lukashenko in Belarus.
I do not question Portugal's sovereign right to take such a stance but I am entitled to ask the Commissioner for rationale behind this position and criticise it openly as one does of a friend when one believes them to be wrong. I have always maintained a balanced and fair approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and I support a two-state solution for lasting peace in the region.
Nevertheless I still maintain that in the spirit of accountability and transparency our European Parliament cross-party initiative, to investigate allegations of fraudulent or terrorist misuse of EU aid through the instrument of a Parliamentary committee of enquiry, is a reasonable one, and is the very reason why MEPs are elected to scrutinise the Commission and the spending of EU taxpayers' money. Hopefully, it would settle this contentious matter and clear the air once and for all.
Dr. Charles Tannock MEP (Conservative, London Region)