Luxembourg politician, prime minister 1984–94, and president of the European Commission 1995–99. He resigned his EC presidency along with the rest of the Commission, following a scandal over fraud and mismanagement.
The manner of his selection as European Commission president, as a compromise alternative to the rejected Belgian prime minister, Jean-Luc Dehaene, weakened his standing as a worthy successor to Delors. However, Santer made a personal appeal to the newly elected European Parliament, of which he had been a member 1975–79, claiming that his aspirations for closer European union were at least as strong as those of Dehaene.
Scandal, fraud, and mismanagement The European Parliament mid-December 1998 threatened to censure and even sack the European Commission, in protest at lax management of the European Union's (EU) $100 billion budget. The crisis blew up after the parliament refused to approve the EU's 1996 accounts. Increasingly concerned about fraud in the EU, the European Parliament put pressure in early January 1999 on several commissioners to resign and support for sacking the entire Commission grew dramatically among angry MEPs across the political spectrum.
After an eleventh-hour threat to quit by Santer, the European Parliament drew back from its threat to sack all 20 commissioners. Santer presented an eight-point clean-up plan – including unfettered access to documents by a select committee of parliament and an end to nepotism in appointments. However, in March 1999 all 20 EU commissioners, including Santer, resigned following a damning report of fraud and mismanagement. Later that month Romano Prodi, the former Italian prime minister, was invited to accept the EU presidency, in succession to Santer.
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