Businesswoman Kroes turns tables on EC critics

28th September 2004, Comments 0 comments

28 September 2004 , AMSTERDAM — Dutch European Commission candidate commissioner Neelie Kroes responded to sharp criticism of her suitability on Tuesday by claiming that her multifaceted experience as a politician, businesswoman and education executive was her trump card.

28 September 2004

AMSTERDAM — Dutch European Commission candidate commissioner Neelie Kroes responded to sharp criticism of her suitability on Tuesday by claiming that her multifaceted experience as a politician, businesswoman and education executive was her trump card.

Speaking to the European Parliament, Kroes defended herself against accusations by French Socialist MEP Pervenche Beres that her business past raised the risk of conflicts of interest if she became the next EC Competition Commissioner. 

If appointed, the former Dutch transport minister will be required to decide whether companies are operating unfair monopolies in contravention of EU law.

But she promised recently to refrain from ruling on companies she has been involved with in the past, often as a member of the board of commissioners.

Kroes admitted on Tuesday that the business sector is not her "natural enemy". Instead, she saw herself more as a referee. "It is about applying regulations. We do not ask the referee not to enjoy the game," news agency ANP quoted her saying.

Kroes also said she has learned more in the past from failures than successes. "In failure, you must reflect on how it can be better in the future," she said.

The 61-year-old said the EU's competition authority should place more attention on large illegal cartels and should be more selective in its work. Kroes said in some cases, it would be better for national authorities to conduct investigations.

Furthermore, Kroes plans to conduct more sector-wide inquiries, focusing on sectors such as in the energy, financial services or waste industries. She said the European Commission should investigate how such sectors could operate more effectively.

Amid claims on Monday by anti-fraud MEP Paul van Buitenen that she lied to the Dutch Parliament and should be investigated by the secret service AIVD, Kroes could not give a clear answer about what she would do if a majority of MEPs considered her unsuitable as EC commissioner.

"If you don't fit in a team, I then think that I would seriously go and talk with the president of the commission (Jose Manuel Durao Barosso)," Kroes said.

But she also dismissed criticism that she acted illegally in the sale of navy frigates or had links with a director of tanker cleaning company TCR, which wrongly gained a government subsidy.

The European Parliament is holding hearings with all 25 candidate EC commissioners in the next week. The new commission must start work from 1 November.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news

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