Finnegan's Take

Tajani is a disaster.

Tajani must go. He works half a week, gives glib and disingenuous answers to questions, but somehow he is Vice President of the European Commission.

I’m sick of Antonio Tajani and his disrespectful, blasé attitude to his brief.

Today he turned up in the press room to launch the SME Finance Forum and spoke in typically vague terms about the importance of small businesses; they need finance and to be paid on time. All true; nothing new.

Then, a journalist (not me) asked an appropriately detailed question on why the Late Payments Directive applies only to SMEs and not to larger corporations who also suffer from delayed payments.

Good question but an easy one to take advantage of: Tajani could have taken the opportunity to say SMEs are being offered a helping hand because, in line with the Small Business Act, the EU wants to make a special effort to support; SMEs are engines of job creation etc.

Instead, Tajani offered only a dismissive retort about late payments having nothing to do with the SME Finance Forum (even though he muddied the issue by referring to it in the first place).

Then he told the journalist he should read the text of the directive. “My private office have it. I can send it to you if you need it,” the Vice-President said glibly, before departing with a smirk after taking just one question.

It was typically disrespectful and reinforced the view that (a) he doesn’t know his brief (b) he’s not interested (c) he is arrogant.

How he became Vice-President of the European Commission remains a mystery but must have more to do with politics than ability. His parliamentary hearing in January was lame by any standards, but particularly weak from someone who has spent years in the Commission and is (somehow) seen as a senior member of the College.

Tajani could easily have been rejected by the Parliament if he had been a newcomer; if MEPs hadn’t taken Jeleva’s scalp; and if he wasn’t aligned to the biggest group in the EP.

Now that he’s in office, the guy spends more time in Italy than Brussels.

It’s rarely mentioned publicly, but Tajani turns up for Commission meetings, puts in a couple of perfunctory performances at midweek launches and conferences if he must, and jets out at the earliest opportunity. He’s a part-time Commissioner.

The Industry & Entrepreneurship post might not be the biggest brief in Brussels, but it is very important at a time when businesses are struggling and unemployment is rising.

We deserve better than this.

Author :
Print

Comments

  1. I suppose you’re right Florian. Although, Tajani wasn’t directly elected – the Italians inflicted him upon all of Europe by repeatedly electing Berlusconi!

    (By the way, as an Irishman, can I hereby apologise for McCreevy!)

  2. Brilliant stuff. But completely frustrating – there’s no way to get rid of him (and Berlusconi just navigated a successful vote of confidence in Italy). The public don’t pay enough attention to EU matters to really put pressure on this kind of excess.

  3. I suggest you to read the parliamentary question E-1470/10 about Tajani.

    Subject: Compliance by EU Commissioner with code of conduct
    Answer(s)

    On 18 February 2010, in connection with a recent public procurement scandal in Italy involving the Italian Head of Civil Protection, Guido Bertolaso, the daily newspaper La Repubblica published on its website part of the transcript of a telephone conversation intercepted by the Florence Ros (carabinieri special operations unit) in charge of the investigation, in which Antonio Tajani, Commission Vice-President responsible for industry, is mentioned by name.

    It emerges from the transcript published on the journal’s website that, on 7 March 2010, Gianni Letta, Undersecretary for the Prime Minister’s Office, contacted Bertolaso to pass on information divulged in a telephone call from Tajani regarding impending proceedings against Italy for infringement of environmental standards on the island of Maddalena (Sardinia). The extract reads: ‘He (Tajani — ed.) has found out that Dimas (Commission responsible for the environment — ed.) plans to initiate infringement proceedings regarding Maddalena and intends to announce this on Wednesday or Thursday.’

    If this is true, does the Commission not consider that Commissioner Tajani is failing to fulfil the fundamental duty of all Commissioners regarding independence and autonomy vis-à-vis their Member States of origin under Article 17(3) (TITLE III — PROVISIONS ON THE INSTITUTIONS) of the consolidated version of the Treaty on European Union (TEU)? The relevant provision reads as follows:

    ‘The members of the Commission shall be chosen on the ground of their general competence and European commitment from persons whose independence is beyond doubt.

    In carrying out its responsibilities, the Commission shall be completely independent. Without prejudice to Article 18(2), the members of the Commission shall neither seek nor take instructions from any Government or other institution, body, office or entity. They shall refrain from any action incompatible with their duties or the performance of their tasks.’

  4. I consider some of these comments indeed short-lived, not to mention a bit anti-EU! If I have to follow the style of some of your comments, well then I should spend all day talking about the other EU countries’ s contradictions, putting on the plate absolutely nothing to debate. It is clear that the Italians are not all the same as French, English people etc. If we have to talk about topics, creating thus a debate which could lead somewhere interesting, it is important not to write some old stupidities. Otherwise it is better not write anything! I agree with you that Tajani is unbearable but actually he cant be taken as a rapresentative for all Italians. And please, I definitely don’t deserve Berlusconi as well as many French people surely feel they don’t deserve Sarkozy’s currently decisions about Roma. So it is not question again of what to deserve or not! thanx. Gius

  5. Failure of EU Commissioners to comply with the Code of Conduct

    In response to my Written Question E‑1470/2010 entitled ‘Compliance by EU Commissioner with code of conduct’, concerning the procurement scandal in Italy involving the Italian Head of Civil Protection, Guido Bertolaso, and the revelations by the newspaper La Repubblica on information given in confidence by the current Commissioner for Industry, Antonio Tajani, to the State Secretary of the Italian Prime Minister’s Office, Gianni Letta, in relation to possible infringement proceedings against Italy, on 13 April 2010 Commission President José Manuel Barroso replied that ‘the Commission wishes to point out that it is not in the habit of commenting on press articles.’

    According to the transcript of telephone conversations intercepted by the Carabinieri in Florence and submitted to the public prosecutor’s office in Perugia, on 7 March 2009 Gianni Letta did actually call Bertolaso to tell him that Tajani had called him to say that infringement proceedings were about to be opened against Italy for infringement of environmental legislation on the island of Maddalena (Sardinia). The transcript reads: ‘He (Tajani – Ed.) has found out that Dimas (Commissioner for the environment – Ed.) plans to initiate infringement proceedings regarding Maddalena.’

    Article 17(3) of Title III — Provisions on the institutions — of the consolidated version of the Treaty on European Union stipulates that all Commissioners have fundamental duties regarding independence and autonomy vis-à-vis their Member States of origin. It states that ‘The members of the Commission shall be chosen on the ground of their general competence and European commitment from persons whose independence is beyond doubt. […] the members of the Commission shall neither seek nor take instructions from any Government or other institution, body, office or entity. They shall refrain from any action incompatible with their duties or the performance of their tasks.’

    In the light of the above, does the Commission not agree that Tajani’s conduct is incompatible with the duties of independence and autonomy in relation to his own country and with the principles of collective responsibility and confidentiality laid down in the Code of Conduct for Commissioners?

    Does the Commission not agree that under the current process to review the Code of Conduct for Commissioners, provisions should be laid down to ensure that Commissioners themselves do not make any comments which call into question the decisions of the Commission, and that they refrain from disclosing what is said at Commission meetings?

    Answer of the European Commission

    La Commission souhaite réitérer la réponse donnée dans le cadre de la question E-1470/10 de l’Honorable Parlementaire(1), selon laquelle elle n’a pas l’habitude de commenter des articles de presse ni, a fortiori, des procès-verbaux d’interceptions téléphoniques que ne relèvent pas de son ressort. Elle souhaite également rappeler son attachement au respect des obligations découlant de l’article 17, paragraphe 3 du Traité (TUE) qui établit les devoirs d’indépendance des membres de la Commission et leur obligation de s’abstenir de tout acte incompatible avec l’exercice de leurs fonctions.

    La Commission considère que les dispositions du Code de conduite des Commissaires concernant la collégialité et la confidentialité des délibérations du Collège sont claires et qu’elles n’ont pas, à sa connaissance, fait l’objet d’un manquement.

Comments are closed.