Temporary Committee EU Inquiry into FMD

message received April 16th

Caroline Lucas doth not so much "protest too much" but protesteth about the wrong thing. The PPE (to which the Tories are aligned) plus the ELDR (Liberals), together with the Greens and the alliance of small groups such as the UEN and the EDD, constitute a considerable majority in the European Parliament. They should, therefore, collectively, be in a position to impose their will on the structure and conduct of the inquiry by outvoting the socialists. This is not a matter of Labour control-freakery.

In fact, there are a substantial number of more serious problems which are hampering the inquiry. One is the "tower of babel" effect, where the administration of the inquiry is carried out by a small, underfunded, multi-national secretariat, working at great speed with little contact with working members of the committee. They forge ahead, against impossible deadlines, in a partial vacuum, presenting faits accomplis which are too late to change.

Another serious problem is the chairmanship and the rapporteur - Spanish and German. Neither have any real grasp of the issues involved yet they tend to yet they tend to run the show, working with the secretariat to get the show on the road. Communication with them and the rest of the committee is poor so, again in something of a vacuum, they tend to come up with their own "solutions" which are not necessarily to the liking of the committee but again, with the pressure of time, cannot be changed.

But the central problem is to do with the Tories themselves who called for the committee and orchestrated the votes which brought it into being. Although they wanted the committee, their central problem is that they do not have a coherent idea of what they want the committee to achieve. By and large, they see it as an opportunity for "Labour bashing", and revel in scoring political points but, beyond that, they seem to have very little idea of where they want to go.

This lack of core objectives - the political vacuum - reflects right thoughout the committee. Everybody is working to their own agenda and at no time has the committee - either in the coordination group or the full committee - actually sat down and decided on these matters. And, in the absence of deciding what it is we want to achieve, it is hardly surprising that there is no clear plan on how to achieve it.

Several times I have sought to impress on a small group of the members, including the Tories and the Greens, the need to be very clear about what we should aim for but, so far, I feel I am punching cotton wool. The political "game" it seems to me, is much more important. I fear the real objective of the inquiry is to give its members an opportunity for political grandstanding. Any actual achievements, at this rate, will be accidental by-products.