Sunday

26th Feb 2017

Commission tightens rules after Barrosogate

  • Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said ethical behaviour depended on more than tight rules.

The European Commission has proposed to prolong the period during which top officials have to seek permission before moving on to a new job, in an effort to calm a public uproar over former president Jose Manuel Barroso's job at Goldman Sachs.

"In the light of recent experience made with members of the previous commission, our code of conduct should be tightened in order to set the highest ethical standards possible for cases of conflict of interest," commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said on Wednesday (23 November) in a statement.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Barroso, Juncker's predecessor, caused a furore in July when he joined the US investment bank Goldman Sachs some 20 months after leaving the commission.

The current rules say ex-members of the college are subject to a "cooling-off" interval of 18 months after leaving office.

Juncker suggested expanding the period to three years for ex-presidents, and two years for all other members of the college.

"Tighter rules are certainly not sufficient to bring about acceptable ethical behaviour in all cases. But they are an indispensable starting point," he added.

Critics have long argued that the current code is too lax and allows for a "revolving door" between the EU executive and business.

Juncker came under fire in the Barroso case for failing to firmly condemn his predecessor and launch a sanctions procedure against him.

He waited several months before referring the case to the Ad Hoc Ethical Committee, an internal advisory panel, and that only happened after pressure from EU ombudsman Emily O'Reilly.

The ombudsman on Wednesday welcomed the commission's announcement, but said she would continue to monitor the situation.

She said her own work on the code of conduct suggested there was need for more far-reaching measures, including more detail on how the rules should be interpreted and the possibility of sanctions.

She also hinted at a possible overhaul of the Ad Hoc Ethical Committee, which currently consists of three people who are supposed to be independent experts but all have long careers in the EU behind them.

The commission gave no news on Wednesday regarding possible sanctions on Barroso. A spokesman said they were still discussing the opinion of the ethics panel, which was delivered on 31 October and said that Barroso had tarnished the image of the EU but not broken against the 18 months deadline.

Juncker himself has said Goldman Sachs was a "poor choice" of employer.

Magazine

Barrosogate and the revolt of public opinion

Just days after Britain’s vote to leave the EU, the bloc was rocked by the news that commission ex-president, Jose Manuel Barroso, had landed a top job with Goldman Sachs.

Former EU commissioner gets slap on the wrist

Neelie Kroes, a commission member from 2004 to 2014, received a "reprimand" fro failing to declare off-shore company and income while receiving an EU allowance.

Juncker envisages EU of core groups

Commission head Juncker say EU states which want deeper integration should press ahead in core groups, in reaction to the UK’s departure.

EU commission drops anti-corruption report

Transparency campaigners are livid after the EU commission scuppered plans to publish an EU anti-corruption report amid unfolding corruption scandals in Romania and France.

News in Brief

  1. Spanish court jails former IMF chief Rato
  2. Macron proposes Nordic-style economic model for France
  3. Germany posts record high budget surplus
  4. Labour ousts Ukip in Brexit homeland
  5. Dutch lower house approves EU-Ukraine treaty
  6. WTO says Russian pork ban was illegal
  7. Belgian nuclear plant made 'significant progress' on safety
  8. Report: Commission gauging EU support for Poland sanctions

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EURORDISJoin Rare Disease Day and Help Advocate for More Research on Rare Diseases
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStudents Who Are Considered Fit Get Better Grades in School
  3. QS World MBA TourMeet with Leading International Business Schools in Paris on March 4th
  4. Malta EU 2017Economic Governance: Agreement Reached on Structural Reform Support Programme for Member States
  5. Socialists & DemocratsWomen Have to Work Ten Years Longer to Match Lifetime Earnings of Men
  6. Counter BalanceTrans-Adriatic Pipeline Is a Major Risk for Banks, Warns New Analysis
  7. Martens CentreEU and US Migration Policies Compared: Join the Debate on February 28th
  8. Swedish EnterprisesTechnology and Data Flows - Shaping the Society of Tomorrow
  9. UNICEFNearly 1.4 Million Children at Risk of Death as Famine Looms Across Africa and Yemen
  10. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Fees: Council Reaches Agreement on Wholesale Caps
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Help Startups Access US Market
  12. Centre Maurits CoppietersMinorities and Migrations