Saturday

16th Nov 2019

Former EU commissioner gets slap on the wrist

Former commissioner Neelie Kroes received a "reprimand" from the EU executive for failing to declare an off-shore company and earnings while getting an allowance after she left her position.

But the public shaming, announced on Wednesday (21 December), will have no legal consequences.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 year's of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Nellie Kroes "did not act with the necessary diligence" when she failed to declare income to the European Commission. (Photo: European Parliament)

The European Commission found that Kroes, who was a commissioner from 2004 to 2014, breached the institution's rules twice.

First, Kroes failed to declare, when she took office in 2004, that she held a post of director in an off-shore company, Mint Holdings. She stayed in the company 2000 to 2009.

The information was disclosed in September by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and a group of newspapers.

Soon after, Kroes sent to the commission an updated declaration of income in which she included earnings she had not declared since leaving her position at the end of 2014.

She was at the time receiving a transitional allowance, to which former commissioners are entitled for three years after they leave office or until they earn as much money as the amount of the allowance.

No financial loss

The commission has asked in October its ad hoc ethical committee to investigate on Kroes's case. The committee handed its report on 16 November and the commission says it followed the report's conclusions.

In its decision, the commission said that in the first case, Kroes breached the commissioners' code of conduct, and in the second she "did not act with the necessary diligence" and breached a regulation on commissioners' income.

After the former commissioner admitted that she had hidden income while receiving her transitional allowance, the commission "recovered immediately the money and thus prevented any financial loss for the budget of the union."

The commission said that the amount Kroes failed declared, since when she had failed to do so, and how much was recovered was confidential.

The EU executive found "no sufficient element nor legal grounds" to seize the EU Court of Justice or seek a financial sanction. It therefore decided that Kroes only "deserved a reprimand."

That means that Kroes will continue to receive the pension from the commission to which she is entitled.

'Reputational damage'

EU sources noted that this was the first time that a former commissioner was finger-pointed this way and that it was "reputational damage" for the 75-year old Dutch politician.

After leaving the commission, Kroes created controversy by joining the advisory board of the US car-sharing firm Uber, which she had defended when she was digital commissioner.

It was the second time this year that the commission's ad hoc committee was asked to investigate the conduct of a former commissioner.

In September the committee looked into the appointment of Jose Manuel Barroso, a two-term commission president - as non-executive chairman and special adviser on Brexit to the US investment bank Goldman Sachs.

The committee later ruled that Barroso had "not shown the considerate judgement" that one could expect and had associated the commission with 'the negative image of financial greed ascribed to the bank."

But it had concluded that Barroso had breached no rule, and no sanction or reprimand had been applied for.

EU commission seeks answers from Kroes

Juncker has written to former competition chief after revelations about her offshore firm. Kroes says she forgot to mention it. Her penalty, if any, will be symbolic, but EU reputational damage is growing.

Commission tightens rules after Barrosogate

The European Commission has proposed tighter rules for its members after their term finishes, amid a long-lasting row over Jose Manuel Barroso's job at Goldman Sachs.

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.

News in Brief

  1. Catalan politicians extradition hearing postponed
  2. Germany: EU banking union deal possible in December
  3. EIB: no more funding of fossil-fuel projects
  4. UK defence chief: Russia could trigger World War III
  5. Hungary's Varhelyi will face more questions
  6. Police put former Berlusconi MEP Comi under house arrest
  7. MEPs criticise Poland for criminalising sex education
  8. UK will not name new commissioner before election

Column

These are the crunch issues for the 2019-2024 EU commission

These developments will largely determine who will be running the world in the coming decades and perhaps generations. If the Europeans can't find an answer over the five years, they will be toast. And we haven't even mentioned climate change.

EP president threatens MEP with sanctions over a tweet

The president of the European parliament, David Sassoli, has threatened the leader the leftist GUE/NGL group, Manon Aubry, over a tweet in which she encouraged the eco-activist group Extinction Rebellion to occupy the European parliament.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  3. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  5. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  6. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  7. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  9. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021

Latest News

  1. Key moments for new commission This WEEK
  2. EU threatens legal action against UK over commissioner
  3. Corruption in the Balkans: the elephant in the room
  4. Green MEPs unconvinced by Romanian commissioner
  5. EU states fell short on sharing refugees, say auditors
  6. Hungary's commissioner-to-be grilled over loyalty to Orban
  7. Widow's plea as EU diplomats debate Magnitsky Act
  8. Leftist MEPs call on EU to address crisis in Chile

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us