The team to 1992

THE president of the European Commission, Mr Jacques Delors, has set himself up as Mr 1992. The way he doled out the jobs among his 16 colleagues in the new commission which takes over on january 6th leaves him with no rival. The task of creating the seamless EEC market by the end of 199L, previously held by Lord Cockfield of Britain, has been split three ways. Responsibility for it all lies with Mr Delors.

This commission faces a big job: its four-year mandate leads right up to the end of 1992, when the great Euromarket is supposed to be completed. The new team has the familiar mix of former government ministers, party time-servers and technocrats. Has Mr Delors at least placed them where they can be most effective?

Up to a point. Most of the portfolio held by Lord Cockfield, who was sacked by Mrs Thatcher for being too European, goes to a West German ex-economics minister, Mr Martin Bangemann. Mr Bangemann comes with some political clout, but not with the reputation for conceptual thinking that his predecessor enjoyed. The controversial job of fiscal harmonisation has been taken away from him and given to Mrs Christiane Scrivener, the new junior French commissioner. He has also lost responsibility for harmonising financial services; this goes to Mr Leon Brittan, Mrs Thatcher’s replacement for Lord Cockfield.

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Mr Delors’s toughest fight was to keep Mr Manuel Marin, the senior Spanish commissioner, away from control over the Community’s budget. Mr Marin, with the strong support of his prime minister, Mr Felipe Gonzalez, had set his heart on the post. This was not because of a love of crunching numbers but as a way of directing Community spending towards programmes of interest to Spain and of getting more jobs in Brussels for Spaniards before 1992.

Mr Delors bought off Mr Marin. In exchange for the budget portfolio, Mr Marin settled for overseas development plus fisheries. These were two separate, full-time portfolios in the outgoing commission. Spain has the EEC’s largest fishing fleet, and Spanish fishermen are considered more than a bit cavalier about rules by their Breton, Irish and British colleagues. For them, giving fisheries to Mr Marin is like putting a robber in charge of the crown jewels.

A star or two may emerge from the new commission (watch Mrs Vasso Papandreou, in charge of social affairs). Few people thought Lord Cockfield would shine when he arrived in Brussels four years ago. But for the moment Mr Delors beams more or less alone-a shade too brightly for the liking of some, especially the British and the Danes.

(Table omitted)

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