Today is only day two of the start of the New Year in the European Parliament but it has started with a bang. The questioning of new EU commissioners and subsequent debate is already going on long into the evenings.
The mood of European MEPs seems to have changed over the holiday and many continental MEPs appear much more concerned about the state of public finances than they were before Christmas. This should be a good thing as debate over tax-tax vs. spend-spend that has already started back at home in the UK is now being faced up to by some of our Continental colleagues.
I have now listened to the grillings being given to three of the potential commissioners - those for Economic Affairs, Fraud/Tax and just now Competition. There are grumblings in corridors that various Commissioner Candidates appear to be avoiding answering the questions, or ill briefed - plus ca change. The proposed Competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia has at least tried to give more detailed and informed answers even though he is a Socialist so I don't necessarily agree with all his answers! A classic moment was when one of the tri-lingual French MEPs pointed out that one of the candidates described his priority as "Growth" when speaking English, "Employment" when speaking French and then in German this became the "Social Market"... I must add paying closer attention to translations to my list of New Years Resolutions.