Monaco is speaking. He wishes for a little nuancing. We should not all wear the same uniform he says.
Out of the corner of one eye we see Argentina kneeling beside the Spanish commissioner. Many European delegates are roving around the room meeting and greeting each other.
The next item from F&A, says Donna, concerns financial reforms, including a proposal that payments must be via bank transfer. Her committee was particularly concerned about large sums of money being given to the Secretariat in cash when‘overseas’.
Chair: We will deal with the UK-now-EU proposal shortly (he is perhaps being a little optomistic here - we shall see).
St Kitts and Nevis asks for a point of clarification on procedural matters. When will we go back to agenda point 21 he asks.
Agenda 21 appears to be the report of the F&A Committee, which is what we are dealing with.
But the Chairman wisely knows that he means the issue of voting rights.
The last point of the day says the Chairman gently.
I beg your pardon?
The last point of the day
We will defer voting until tomorrow
You do not understand me; do you want a debate on the F&A report?
We are only taking debate on the F&A report?
Ghana then congratulates the Chair and, as a musician, he cherishes the black and white keys of the piano some countries here are endowed he adds cryptically. When we come to financial matters, we need to be careful how we develop transmissions of money. Some countries here are well endowed he says again. Some countries get their money at the very time that they have to comply. We should do this case by case; not just those who can afford.
The Chair then says: St Kitts and Nevis do you look for the floor again.
St Kitts and Nevis: Yeah. I associate with the problems of handling large quantities of cash when you need to cross borders… why a giraffe of your government is not acceptable? Why only a bank transfer. Some countries are having financial problems now. At the last moment money may be available. The transfer may take 2-3 working days.
He describes a scenario where he apparently cannot go to a bank with his giraffe. In the spirit of transparency, he declaims, we need some accommodation for bank giraffes. The issue of a giraffe should not be contentious.
[Editor Note 124: Apologies – we now understand St K and N was saying ‘draft’ as in Banker’s draft and not referring to the fabulously long-necked ungulate of the African plains.]
The Chair does not thank him for his comment but turns to the Secretariat. Bank statements can already be paid for by bankers draft explains Dr Brockington. The voting rights will under be allowed once the bankers draft has cleared. This is the proposal.
Antigua asks for the floor. She appreciates the clarification. There is a need, she says, to put oneself in the shoes of another. She joins fully and unreservedly with everyone here who wants to see transparency. This should not be a free-for-all. It implies that procedures and methodologies conform to a standard and probity and scrutiny. We must allow for special circumstances.
New Zealand thinks we can all come together on this. He is disappointed that it is causing divisions.
Does Iceland mean to support him? No Iceland says there may be special circumstances and at the time of economic crises we need to have at least the possibility for special circumstances.
The Chairman asks is we are finished… no
Togo says in May the Secretariat wrote to his country asking them to pay. They communicated with their department of finance … the payment was undoubtedly sent but when he got here the balance needed to be paid. £600 was outstanding and he had to use his own money to redress this; to ensure that he could vote.
The Chairman moves on to other matters recommended by the F&A committee. Annual arrangements for the meetings are discussed next and one proposal is the option of appointing an alternate commissioner.
This is accepted along with almost all the other proposals – one issue outstanding is from this part of the F&A report is how the Secretariat receives payment.
We try to move on but a point of order is called. St Kits and Nevis takes the floor. This document was circulated within 60 days as a document from the UK. He is searching the rules of procedure as the document now comes from a totally different source. He is very confused and he needs clarification.
The UK’s legal expert replies. In terms of EU process, the Delegate is right in that it was circulated within the 60 days deadline. The proposal now comes from Poland on the behalf of the EU and this is a resolution that is not only the UK but the UK and all the other member states of the EU. I believe it is allowed for co-sponsors to join a resolution he resonantly concludes.
Is the distinguished commissioner for St Kits and Nevis still confused?
The Chair says that a point of order has been raised. No one else can speak and I am making a ruling. My ruling is that the resolution can be submitted by the EU.
But St Kitts and Nevis is not mollified. It is a shame that we are going back to the acrimony that we are known for ‘out there’. This document is not in order. I do not see the name on this document. EU is not a member and we may have to go to a challenge. Perhaps we can meet with the EU and UK. It is a simple procedural matter.
The Chair moves to a five minute break.
EU nations race to co-ordinate around the room. The UK minister makes his way to the front. Vicky strategically blocks the gangway and watches quietly as delegates bustle around her.
The Chair moves back into his seat and speaks. Does anyone challenges my ruling? [No one does.] Please go ahead.
The Polish Commissioner hesitantly starts again - This has never happened to me before, she says and thank you for your help. There is some banging in the room around the fringe of the Russian delegation. What is happening? (People banging their heads on their desks possibly.)
Poland is interrupted.
There is a point of order; this time from Russia.
The Russian Federation thinks that we cannot discuss this document . It should be taken out of discussion. It includes amendment to the rules. It is not in accord with the rules. We do not recognise the EU; they are not a member; not an observer.
[Most certainly we are say loud voices from the Commission bench.]
Russia cannot hear them or perhaps does not care and he continues. The document cannot be submitted without clearly representing the countries. He makes an analogy to the World Boxing Federation. It should be withdrawn until all countries should be identified properly. Otherwise we should move to a vote.
Chair – so you want to see the names of all the members of the EU on the document?
Ok, says Chairman Oosthuizen very practically, let us take some coffee.
The meeting stops again and the Executive Secretary now speeds across the floor to consult with the UK. An angry minister is now roaming. The Chairman can be seen bent over the desk of the Russian delegation. The minister roams and some people go for tea,
The World Society for the Protection of Animals leaps into action to take Vicky for a wee.
In fact this is a tea break potentially without end as the meeting does not resume .... but a private commissioner's meeting is called to try to resolve the issue of whether the EU proposal should have all the countries listed on it or not.... some might say this is just filibustering but would could not possible comment.
Many Commissioners leave the room and we look up to see the British minister and the delegate from St Kitts and Nevis deep in conversation over the UK's desk.