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Brussels putsch leaves IT policy in limbo

And Karel, our grumpy competition commissioner, seems to have been named - wonder why?

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Yesterday we suggested that the time had come for Gates to go. Today, it's farewell to the European commissioners, who collectively resigned around 1am Brussels time rather than face the ignominy of being sacked for corruption by the hitherto-toothless European Parliament. For the European IT industry, not much will change immediately, but the revolution will ultimately change some of the personnel dealing with trade, competition and IT policy. Existing projects funded by the Commission will continue, and it is highly likely that most commissioners will carry on in a caretaker role for several months until cleared by some form of Brusselsgate inquisition. Those who should be looking for other employment include Jacques Santer, the Luxemburger president who was in charge of the security office, but took no action in the face of great evidence of corruption. Karel Van Miert, European commissioner for DGIV Competition, played a personal role in focussing European solidarity for the DoJ Microsoft case. He also gained a few concessions by supporting some formal European actions against Microsoft. In an interview with the BBC World Service this morning, the Belge Van Miert was referred to as being Dutch, which says a great deal about BBC accuracy nowadays. Van Miert claimed that he had "no choice" but to resign, and complained that the Committee of Independent Experts First Report on Allegations regarding fraud, mismanagement and nepotism in the European Commission "did not look into departments where things went well" and that "conclusions beyond reality" were reached. The most vitriolic part of the report concerns Edith Cresson of DGXXII Education, Training and Youth, former friend of Francois Mitterrand and briefly French prime minister until sacked by him, who got her dentist friend a lucrative job, and herself put in only a three-day week. Cresson characteristically called the report "an Anglo-German conspiracy". Since this is but the first report, we shall have to wait to see just why Van Miert was specifically named in the Annex concerning his stint at DGIX Personnel and Administration until 1994. Whether the main failings of the Commission - failure to act responsibly about its decisions on expenditure, and its inability to stop widespread fraud - will be resolved must remain doubtful, but the determination of the European Parliament not to let them get away with their incompetence (and worse) is to be welcomed. ®

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