Doubt remains over Dutch EC candidate

16th September 2004, Comments 0 comments

16 September 2004 , AMSTERDAM — The European Parliament is far from convinced that former Dutch government minister Neelie Kroes is a suitable candidate for the competition portfolio in the new European Commission due to her broad links with the business community.

16 September 2004

AMSTERDAM — The European Parliament is far from convinced that former Dutch government minister Neelie Kroes is a suitable candidate for the competition portfolio in the new European Commission due to her broad links with the business community.

The head of the parliamentary commission examining suitability of Kroes, French MEP Pervenche Beres, believes that Kroes has her work cut out for her to prevent possible conflicts of interests, newspaper De Telegraaf reported on Thursday.

Kroes countered by asserting that if appointed as a European commissioner, she would not pass judgment on the companies she had been involved in.

The former transport minister has sat on many company boards of commissioners and has in the past been described as the most powerful Dutch woman. The competition portfolio is a key economic post, one of which the Dutch government made no secret of its hope of being awarded.

Beres — who had an informal talk with Kroes on Wednesday night — said her promise to avoid conflicts of interest was unsatisfactory.

She said Kroes was previously involved with car manufacturer Volvo and will therefore not issue any judgments over the Swedish company. "But if a decision has to be made over Renault, that has consequences for Volvo also," she said.

Beres believes that Kroes should be excluded from making decisions over entire industries, raising the question whether she could actually function in the competition position. Beres is awaiting legal advice over the matter.

It is unclear how much support the Socialist MEP can expect for her sharp criticism of the Dutch candidate. "In any case, I speak on behalf of my Socialist group," she said.

The European Commissioner for Competition has far-reaching powers to ban company mergers or to impose fines on firms found guilty of entering into illegal price agreements.

The European Parliament will hold talks with all EC candidates in the coming period and has the authority to reject every candidate commissioner. The new EC must start work on 1 November this year.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news

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