By Michael Tracy
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Extra resources for A European Life: From War to Peace
Result: von Verschuer and Pizzuti were switched around. This was an unusually blatant case of interference in the staffing of a European institution, but in fact, as I myself had already learned, all appointments at the Director-General or Director level were controlled by national authorities, though usually more discreetly. In fact, most appointees subsequently respect the principle of impartiality. In this case, the Italian demands were justified, and soon afterwards the Commission produced a “Mediterranean package” with aids for irrigation, infrastructure improvement, afforestation and other items.
Sometimes we tried to hide some of our staff in the interpreters’ cabins (the full complement of interpreters was still required), but the interpreters did not much like this. Another tactic was to get our technicians to wire up some extra headphones in a corridor behind the cabins, but this had to be done very discreetly. There were occasions when, despite all this, the deadline for settlement was missed. Then a legal fiction was invented: “stopping the clock”; and the current market measures just continued a little longer.
With nine Member States, it still did not work too badly. The main merit of the system is the temporary prestige conferred on the presiding country, particularly the smaller ones who for their term of office have had the task of managing the Community’s affairs and – together with the Commission – representing it internationally. The main drawback is that each country arrives in the post with its own agenda, which it usually does not have time to carry out. And of course, some countries are better at the job than others.
A European Life: From War to Peace by Michael Tracy