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Frmr EU Mandarin Spills the Beans on Intrigue


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Former EU Mandarin Spills the Beans on Commission Intrigue

The latest book by a former Eurocrat is making waves in Brussels as it details the machinations, trickery and deceit which go on in the battle for political power at the European Commission.

For more than seven years, Derk-Jan Eppink worked behind the scenes of the European Commission in Brussels. As a cabinet member of commissioners Frits Bolkestein and Siim Kallas, the Dutchman saw how what he called "the European mandarins" exercised their power. Eppink has published a book, "The Life of a European Mandarin: Inside the Commission," which lifts the lid on the "intrigue, trickery and deceit" used by Eurocrats in the capital of Europe.

DW-WORLD.DE: What essentially is a "European mandarin?"

Derk-Jan Eppink: A European mandarin is a high-ranking official in one of the European institutions; the Commission or the Parliament. The mandarins are the collective memory of the Commission. They know everything; they now how things work, the way to get things done. And they are the force to stay. A commissioner has a five-year term but the mandarins are there for the long haul, and it takes a strong commissioner to come in and exert influence over them.

It sounds as though the mandarins are the real power in the Commission. What use are the commissioners then?

Well, there have been a few useless commissioners who have come in, got sucked under by bureaucracy and spat out again without anyone knowing who they were or what they did. To be successful, you have to know the workings of the commission and your portfolio. It normally takes a commissioner two years to understand what goes on. In that time, the mandarins can get control and keep it. The commissioner then only has three years left to regain the initiative and that is rarely enough time.

Full story, Source: DW-world

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they sound a bit like Permanant Secretaries in the UK Civl Service. They frequently have their own agenda, which they try and impose on the incumbent (in this case) Cabinet Member. (who, like the Euro Commissionairs, only have a few years in power).

Meow Purr.

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