Hudghton (ARE) - Madam President, the report by the special committee has shown beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is an urgent need for reform within the Commission. It has brought to light a culture of complacency towards irregular practices at the very highest level. This evidence might not have come to light had this Parliament not demanded urgent action in January. The report and its aftermath gives us an historic opportunity to force a seismic change in the relationship between the Commission and Parliament, to tackle the democratic deficit in the European Union and overhaul the system of scrutiny. The Commission not only needs to be brought under democratic accountability, I want to see MEPs given tough new powers to tackle mismanagement, fraud and nepotism. Now that they have resigned there should be no question of some Commissioners returning to their posts. Having volunteered to accept their collective responsibility and resign it would be incomprehensible to the citizens of Europe if the same individuals were to be reinstated. This Union's institutions, with Parliament playing a major role, must ensure that a new Commission is put in place soon, charged with the responsibility of ensuring that a complete reassessment of Commission management and structure is initiated and that the new Parliament after June must have its opportunity to judge those who are nominated to the Commission from 2000 onwards.

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