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EP brings research and energy issues together with industry and external trade

In a reorganisation for the new session, the work previously covered by the European Parliament's Committee for Research, Technological Development and Energy will now be undertaken by one of the largest committees - at 60 members - in the new Parliament. The Committee on Indu...
In a reorganisation for the new session, the work previously covered by the European Parliament's Committee for Research, Technological Development and Energy will now be undertaken by one of the largest committees - at 60 members - in the new Parliament. The Committee on Industry, External Trade, Research and Energy will cover the fields covered by the Research Committee and the External Economic Relations Committee, as well as part of the work of the Economic and Industrial Affairs Committee, in the last Parliament.

The Industry Committee will be chaired by Carlos Westendorp Y Cabeza, a former Spanish Minister who was influential in preparing the Treaty of Amsterdam. He is currently an Ambassador to the UN and a mediator in the former Yugoslavia. His vice-chairs are: Renato Brunetta, an Italian economist; Nuala Ahern, an Irish MEP since 1994 and psychologist; and Peter-Michael Mombauer, a German lawyer and also an MEP since 1994. Ahern and Mombauer were both members of the Research Committee in the last Parliament.

The Committee met for the first time on 28 and 29 July to set its agenda for the coming months and to discuss, amongst other things, the questionnaires it must set the prospective Commissioners, from the team assembled by Romano Prodi. The questionnaire will include general questions to the nominees on their visions for the future of the EU and ask why they should be given the responsibility of Commissioner. The rest of the questionnaire will include more detailed questions on research, energy, industrial policy and external economic policy.

It had been hoped in the Committee that the questionnaire could be completed and sent off to Parliament's President Nicole Fontaine on the afternoon of 29 July. However there was some criticism from MEPs of the size and scope of the document, which will now be revised. This process may not be completed for another week, according to a source from among the coordinators on the Committee.

When the nominee Commissioners do finally receive the questionnaire, they and their future officials within the Commission will have to spend their summer composing their responses. These must be submitted to the Parliament in August, before the Commissioners-designate present themselves to Parliament in individual hearings before the Committees covering their portfolios. Speaking to the European Parliament on 21 July, Commission President-designate, Romano Prodi, said the hearings would determine the nominee Commissioners' competence and ability to act. They would also, he said, emphasise the legitimacy of the Commission.

This rhetoric comes as no surprise after the new Commission's early conception after the resignation of the previous Commission in the face of widespread criticism both of individual's activities and the general administrative culture. And so, Parliament will also be sure to investigate the new Commissioners' integrity.
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