Fainting in Coyles
An occasional letter from the Heart of Euroville

Sunday, March 16, 2003  

This is why Kinnock must GO

Right this is going to be a very long post, and for that I apologise in advance. Below I am putting the entire letter from Jules Muis to Neil Kinnock. The contents of this letter and the circumstances surrounding it condemn Kinnock’s management style, judgement and suitability to do a job as important as Vice-President of the European Commission. Kinnock commissioned this report, then hid it , preferring to destroy the career of a woman who was merely doing her job.

I will first selectively quote from the letter and try and explain what I mean.

This is a prima facie professional-technical summary of observations on the accounting reform proposal by the Commission’s Accountant, dated 5th of April, 2002, addressed to Mr. Mingasson; as amended into an undated draft addressed to Ms Schreyer for Commission consideration. Note should be taken that the Commission’s Accountant tells us she has had no substantive co-operation/feedback from/within BUDG, including the Director-General, in preparing this note”.

Muis explains what is going on. Schreyer is the Budgets Commissioner and a German Green, employed merely because Schroeder wanted to throw a bone to Joshka Fischer his foreign secretary and coalition partner. Normal procedure for the big countries in the EU is that the opposition gets one Commissioner, to balance the one from the Government side (Kinnock – Labour, Patten –sort of Tory). BUDG is the internal designation for the Director General for Budgets.

...the Accountant’s note is (not) too clear about the depth of effort required.[I have been through it at the Worldbank]. It would also challenge the Iron Horse, called Sincom, on its versatility to cope with it all; and if we factor in its present reliability, I would speculate its functionality will fall far short of eventually identified needs”.

Sincom is the infamous accounting system in the Commission. Andreason had shown how it could be fraudulently tampered with.

The Commission lacks the necessary skill base, both in accounting and controls, as well as, I speculate, in project management for a project of this complexity and scale”.

The chief auditor does not believe the Commission is capable of financial reform!!

This briefing would not be complete without pointing out the circumstances under which the new Accountant is presently working, i.e. in a perceived intrinsically hostile work environment, where she has to get control over a department haunted by a profound lack of qualified staff, a host of vacancies/absentees in critical functions, an entrenched mindset and positions/ functions, a power ambience totally catered to the DG who himself has strongly opposed her appointment in the first place, an upset Commissioner who stopped being her main sponsor when she found out she has to work with an individual whose insistent questions are threatening the regular flow of funds and potentially causing embarrassment in the process to the appearance of a smooth functioning BUDG outfit; and an interested staff audience that looks back at the history of the Commission and put their money and support on the most likely winner of the arm twisting exercise; rather than asking themselves who is more right and what is in the better interest of the Commission.

No Commission(er) can let nature have its course without him/herself being seriously exposed, if the source of the controversy proves to be right in the type of questions she raises

Quite, I couln’t put it better myself.

At this stage, her (Andreason’s) demise, if it were to come that far, would be a serious blow to Reform, sending a signal that the old ways of keeping things from happening still work; and put all professionals within the Commission on notice that ‘might makes right’, whatever one’s professional convictions/duties.

The substance of Ms Andreasen’s communications so far seem factually substantive and correct

Remember Kinnock received this note the day before he destroyed her and announced her resignation – she had not in fact resigned. Shades of Stephen Byers.

Also, Guth refers to the importance of the addressees being ‘informed about the work already undertaken for the modernisation of accounts’ but does not mention that the work has been at a virtual standstill since the drafting of this report; and hence, that none of the suggested deadlines have been met. In fact the impression is that BUDG having drafted this June report lost total interest subsequently”,

Eckart Guth, head of Commissioner Schreyer's private office – Mr Budget.

The core problem is BUDG had no champion promoting the cause of improving accounting, to the contrary. I find it hard to accept we can blame the new Accountant not having been able to wrap her arms around this complex issue, with a homebase in a deep state of denial on the quality of the existing systems, embedded in a very top down managerial mono-culture, with a DG who only recently told the Audit Court he did not see the need for any accounting system at all. We should also not blame the Audit Court for not responding to this June note; if there is no serious audience”.

Nobody cares, nobody tries and if somebody does, it’s shoot the messanger time.

I apologise again for the length of this post but the seriousness of the case is such that ful disclosure rather than selective quotes seems to be the purpose of the sphere. The full letter is below.

posted by Eliab | 11:20 pm
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