Monday 26 February 2018

Finance chief will face tough grilling to secure EU post

Fionnan Sheahan and Donal O'Donovan in Brussels

DEPARTMENT of Finance chief Kevin Cardiff will be forced to address mounting questions over his suitability to be appointed to a plum EU job.

Even Fine Gael's allies in Europe have expressed doubts about Mr Cardiff and are planning to give him an intense grilling as concerns mount in Brussels over his nomination.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan last night said the Government fully supported Kevin Cardiff's nomination to join the European Court of Auditors.

Mr Noonan said he expected the European Parliament to back the appointment.

Mr Cardiff is due to appear before the European Parliament's budgetary control committee in a fortnight to be ratified for appointment.

Fine Gael is part of the biggest group in the European Parliament, the European People's Party (EPP).

The leader of the EPP group on the committee told the Irish Independent that what she had read about Mr Cardiff's nomination was "quite worrying".

German MEP Ingeborg Grassle, the EPP coordinator on the committee, said she had already heard of the €3.6bn accounting error. She also had questions about Mr Cardiff's role during the economic crisis.

"The Court of Auditors should be beyond all doubt. What we read in the press is really quite worrying. I think he will have a very interesting hearing. I am keen on knowing his past," she said.

Ms Grassle said her alignment with Fine Gael in the parliament would in no way impede her questioning of Mr Cardiff.

"We have to examine. We have to do our job," she said.

Independent MEP Marian Harkin said she would be discussing Mr Cardiff's nomination with her colleagues on the committee.

"On the wider issues in the Department of Finance, I would personally feel politicians must take primary responsibility there. But I don't think it was the most appropriate nomination," she said.

None of Ireland's 12 MEPs are on the committee but they can inform their colleagues on questions to pose.

The European Parliament cannot block Mr Cardiff's nomination completely, but it can reject it, which would be highly embarrassing.

In that case, the Government would have to consider trying to push the nomination through via an EU finance ministers meeting.

Irish Independent

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