Commission President Romano Prodi has rejected calls for resignations of members of his Commission over fraud in the EU’s statistics agency Eurostat.
Mr Prodi told the Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament on Thursday, 25 September, that there was no reason to ask any Commissioner to resign over the Eurostat affair. “On the basis of the facts I have outlined, after careful thought and in full awareness of the issues, I consider there is no reason to ask any Commissioner to assume political responsibility and resign,” he stated at the opening of the hearing on the Eurostat case. In recent days, several members of the Parliament have called for the resignation of Commissioner Pedro Solbes, responsible for Eurostat.
While recognising mismanagement at Eurostat, Mr Prodi argued that the present Commission should not be expected to bear political responsibility for what went on at Eurostat before 1999, i.e. before the time of Prodi’s Commission. He told the Parliament’s leaders that his Commission had initiated radical reforms of the institution; in 1999, a series of scandals led to the resignation of the former Santer Commission in 1999. “We left not a single stone unturned,” he said, but added that “this work of reform is not finished yet”. Mr Prodi underlined that “the Commission is not a little sailing boat that can tack on a pull of the tiller. It is a big ship that takes time and distance to come about”.