Sunday

28th May 2017

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.

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.

  • 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.

Macron and Merkel to 'reconstruct' the EU

The French and German leaders will present a common proposal to deepen and strengthen the EU and the eurozone. They say they are ready to change the EU treaties.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFChild Alert on Myanmar: Fruits of Rapid Development yet to Reach Remote Regions
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBecome an Explorer - 'Traces of Nordic' Seeking Storytellers Around the World
  3. Malta EU 2017Closer Cooperation and Reinforced Solidarity to Ensure Security of Gas Supply
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceHigh-Intensity Interval Training Is Therapeutic Option for Type 2 Diabetes
  5. Dialogue Platform"The West Must Help Turkey Return to a Democratic Path" a Call by Fethullah Gulen
  6. ILGA-EuropeRainbow Europe 2017 Is Live - Which Countries Are Leading on LGBTI Equality?
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhen You Invest in a Refugee Woman You Help the Whole Community
  8. Eurogroup for AnimalsECJ Ruling: Member States Given No Say on Wildlife Protection In Trade
  9. European Heart NetworkCall for Urgent Adoption of EU-Wide Nutrient Profiles for Nutrition & Health Claims
  10. Counter BalanceInvestment Plan for Europe More Climate Friendly but European Parliament Shows Little Ambition
  11. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi: China's Belt and Road Initiative Benefits People Around the World
  12. Malta EU 2017EU Strengthens Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Firearms