The quality of MEPs is sometimes strained

April 27, 2010

I am not a Eurosceptic, but you do sometimes question whether the billions of euros European taxpayers’ dole out each year to the European Union — and specifically the European Parliament — is always money well spent.

Those doubts came freshly to mind on Tuesday during the presentation of the European Central Bank’s annual report to the parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs.

ECB Vice-President Lucas Papademos of Greece was speaking to the committee for the last time before he leaves the bank’s executive board in May and is replaced by Vitor Constancio, the governor of Portugal’s central bank.  Constancio’s appointment was confirmed in March.

Yet during a question-and-answer session at the end of Papademos’s presentation, one MEP — I will spare the deputy the embarrassment of being named, but she was from the United Kingdom — quizzed Papademos on who was going to replace him at the ECB.

The Greek seemed a little non-plussed, but didn’t respond. He looked straight ahead in silence.papademos

It is not the first time a member of the 736-person parliament, the only directly elected body in the European Union, has shown a suprising ignorance of their own area of responsibility.

Perhaps accustomed to such slip-ups, the chairwoman of the committee, Britain’s Sharon Bowles, quickly papered over the error, stating that of course the committee had voted to approve Constancio’s appointment barely a month ago.

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