There’s not much EU news in the UK media today.
All the broadsheets, plus the Daily Mail, mention the revelation in the European Parliament by UKIP MEP Nigel Farage that the new transport commissioner, Jacques Barrot, had been convicted in a case involving the misuse of the funds of the French CDS party, of which he was secretary general at the time.
Commission President José Manuel Barroso was not aware of the issue until Thursday, and because Barrot was pardoned in a general amnesty passed by the French Assembly, making it illegal to mention the case in the French media.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage in exposing the story. The Guardian explains that Farage “might face legal action despite his parliamentary immunity, because Mr Barrot’s lawyer, Jean-Pierre Mignard, said any public reference to a conviction under the French amnesty laws was illegal.”
The Mail has Farage’s reaction:
The European Parliament is prepared to overlook the conviction of a senior member of the Commission for embezzling government funds, and is prepared instead to threaten with arrest the person who reveals it.
What clearer indication can there possibly be of the corruption and hypocrisy which pervades the entire European project from the lowest to the highest levels?
The Daily Telegraph quotes one leading MEP as saying of Barrot: “the issue of resignation is on the table.”
The Independent has a comment piece by Dutch foreign minister Bernard Bot defending Europe’s stance on terrorism against charges of complacency:
If there are Americans who think Europeans are complacent about the terror threat, then let me set the record straight. Hundreds of Europeans have died in terrorist attacks — on and after 11 September. Just because many Europeans prefer to speak of a “campaign” rather than a “war” against terrorism does not mean they believe there is nothing to fight for.
The article touches on European states’ efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, the Balkans, Sudan, Congo, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Eritrea and the Israel-Palestine conflict.
The Daily Telegraph also reports that the new Commissioner for External Affairs, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, believes the EU should have a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Ferrero-Waldner said that an EU seat would not have to come at the expense of Britain’s and France’s seats.