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This week's In the News examines the recent high-level corruption scandal in the European Union. Last Tuesday, the European Commission -- the executive body that initiates and implements EU legislation -- resigned en masse, plunging the supranational organization into unprecedented political chaos. All 20 commissioners, led by commission President Jacques Santer of Luxembourg, abdicated their positions the day after the release of a scathing report by the Committee of Independent Experts. The independent panel of experts, who were appointed by the European Parliament, had investigated allegations of bureaucratic malfeasance perpetrated by the European Commission. The committee's report collectively accused the commission of financial "fraud, mismanagement, and nepotism." In the wake of the incriminating report and subsequent resignations, EU foreign ministers are scrambling to find successors for the commissioners to placate the bewildered European citizenry and return to business as usual. This political upheaval happened at a crucial transitional time in the EU's 42-year history, undermining its credibility at a time when it plans to expand into eastern Europe. The current tumult occurred just three months after launching a new unified currency, seven weeks before the new Treaty of Amsterdam commences, and three months before the next European Parliamentary elections, which will determine the future composition of the EU's 626-member assembly. During the next two days, distracted leaders from all fifteen EU member states will meet in Berlin to discuss the reconstruction of the European Commission and formulate a seven-year budget for the entire EU, an organization with about 18,000 officials who administer nearly $100 billion annually. The eight resources discussed provide news, commentary, and analysis.
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