Cardiff’s fate in the hands of parliament

THE nomination of Kevin Cardiff to the European Court of Auditors looks certain to be decided by a full sitting of the European Parliament in three weeks’ time.

Supporters of Ireland’s nominee to the Court were still debating what the best course of action is following his rejection by members of the Budgetary Control Committee.

But the whole process could mean that it will be January at least before Kevin Cardiff knows whether the Parliament will agree to his nomination.

A senior official in the Parliament said they were in unchartered territory when it came to deciding what to do next. “The procedures do not deal with a situation like this,” said Bob Fitzhenry, spokesperson for the European People’s Party (EPP), of which Fine Gael is a member.

“We are in uncharted waters because of the damaging emails now made available,” he said, referring to emails the current auditor, Eoin O’Shea, sent to some committee members indicating Mr Cardiff “was responsible for financial supervision during the period of the collapse of the Irish banks”.

Chair of the budgetary control committee, Dutch MEP Jan Mulder, can decide to call a meeting of his Committee to reconsider the matter in the light of the new information.

A member of the Liberal group to which Fianna Fáil belongs, he has said he is waiting to view the emails.

If he does not recall the committee, the vote scheduled to take place on December 13 in the European Parliament rejecting Mr Cardiff can be postponed and referred back to the committee.

This would need a motion supported by 40 MEPs, which should be easy to get given that the EPP and the Socialists — of which the Labour party is a member — support the Government parties. Ingeborg Grassle, the EPP coordinator in the committee has said she would support this.

If a majority of parliament vote to refer the report back to the committee, then the 29 members are free to vote again on Mr Cardiff’s nomination.

However, all of this will take time, and it could take even longer if Ms Grassle continues among others to insist they need Mr Cardiff to answer another questionnaire dealing with technical issues about the Court of Auditors. She voted against Mr Cardiff on the basis she wanted more information.

The court did not get around to such questions as they spent most of the time querying Mr Cardiff about his role and handling of the economic crisis.

Ms Grassle has also said she would like to hear from the president of the Court of Auditors about the potential for a conflict of interest and how this could be overcome, given that Mr Cardiff was involved with EU funding and the bailout, which would now be audited by the court’s members.

The committee has three meetings scheduled before Christmas but they may require an additional meeting to specifically discuss Mr Cardiff. They may not recall him, but simply discuss his case and the issue of unusual influence as a result of Mr O’Shea’s emails.

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