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Sunday, June 05, 2005

A question of accountability

The Independent on Sunday reports this morning that Peter Mandelson is pressing for new GM foods and crops to be eaten and planted across Europe, even though governments cannot agree on whether to introduce them. Apparently, the trade commissioner's department wants to speed up the use of GMs, despite widespread public opposition, and is insisting on their being imposed by the Commission on unwilling governments.

This news is unwelcome and should be resisted by the British Government. It shows once more how out-of-touch Eurocrats and the Governments who support them are with public opinion across Europe.

What it also does is to underline a point made in a session I attended yesterday in Hay-on-Wye. The event was called "A jury of my peers?" and featured three eminent human rights barristers including Helena Kennedy and Sadakat Kadri. One of them (I think it was Helena Kennedy) described the experience of trying to sue the European Commission. It proved impossible as the Commission apparently stands apart from the normal judicial and governmental process.

I heard the new European Constitution described this morning as a dead duck which can still bite. It is presumably now chasing the circle-swimming one-legged duck set free in London a few years ago by Rhodri Morgan. However, as that constitution does not address the issue of the accountability of the Commission so as to allow this sort of action by Mandelson to be challenged, perhaps it would be best reined in for a while and rewritten before being unleashed once more onto an unsuspecting public.
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