Tuesday

26th May 2020

Ex-industry-commissioner takes job with RBS

  • Mr Verheugen has taken up a senior position with the controversial British bank (Photo: duncan)

Former European industry commissioner Guenter Verhuegen has taken a job with the UK's Royal Bank of Scotland.

The bank announced on Wednesday that the former EU official would be joining the firm as "senior advisor and vice chairman of Global Banking and Markets in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA)."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

In his first term as a member of the commission from 1999 to 2004, the German Social Democrat was in charge of EU enlargement then from 2004 to 2010, as a vice-president of the EU executive, he was responsible for the enterprise and the industry with the objective of increasing the competitiveness of European industry.

Welcoming him aboard the RBS team, executive Ingrid Hengster said in a statement that the firm was particularly pleased with his wealth of political contacts.

"Professor Verheugen is known as a great supporter of the European idea and has made himself, not least in the European industrial policy a name," she said. "His experience in European politics and its national and international contacts are very valuable for RBS."

"We are delighted that Professor Verheugen's future as a senior advisor to us. This shows once again how important the German and European market for the RBS."

European Commission spokesman Michael Mann told EUobserver that they were not aware that Mr Verheugen had given prior notice of the appointment to Brussels, as all ex-commissioners must do before taking up commercial posts once leaving office.

"We are currently checking. If this appointment is confirmed, we will perform the usual process to check to see if there was any overlap with what he was responsible for in his previous role," he said.

"If so, the matter will be sent to the ethics committee to assess whether there are any problems."

The announcement comes on the same day that it was revealed that former Irish commissioner Charlie McCreevy was to take up a position with low-cost airline Ryanair and a few months after Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the most recent external relations commissioner, took up a post with re-insurance giant Munich Re.

Lobbying transparency campaigners were critical of the move, saying that officials are hired - in what they refer to as 'revolving doors' cases - as much for their contacts as for their influence in a particular policy area.

"We have serious doubts about how the commission is handling these cases," said Erik Wesselius of Corporate Europe Observatory, "about the lack of transparency in how the commission is evaluating job moves."

He added that the choice of new employer was surprising given the opprobrium heaped upon the bank. Until the crisis, RBS was the largest firm in the world in terms of assets. As a result of the economic crisis however, the bank reported a 2008 loss of £24.1bn, the largest annual loss in UK corporate history and was later effectively nationalised. RBS has received heavy criticism for the bonuses handed out to executives.

Former chief executive Fred Goodwin notoriously left the bank with a £703,000 pension.

Mr Wesselius said: "Someone who has had such a job in the European Commission should not be allowed to move this bank, especially in consideration of its controversial activities in the context of the financial crisis."

RBS spokespeople refused to reveal how much Mr Verheugen would be earning in his new role.

Asked if there was anything about Mr Verheugen's EU job that made the bank seek out the ex-commissioner, RBS spokeswoman Aofe Reynolds said: "It is impossible for me to comment on his previous role."

"Certainly he has a European profile that will help us grow our business."

Jourova: Ease emergency powers - especially Hungary

The EU commission vice-president said that as member states relax lockdwon measures, it is time to roll back the state of emergencies that affect democracy and fundamental rights. Hungary said it might end extra powers in June.

Commission struggles with German court challenge

While the EU commission has suggested there could be EU probes becasue of the German consitutional court's decision, chancellor Angela Merkel argued to her party that a clash is avoidable.

Bucharest and Budapest in 'autonomy' region row

Budapest and Bucharest are engaged in a war of words over the heavily-Hungarian region of Szeklerland, part of Romania's Transylvania. But is a row over autonomy just cover to overshadow the corona virus crisis?

Hungary and Poland in spotlight for lockdown moves

The EU commission is double-checking emergency measures in every member state, as fundamental rights have been temporarily abrogated. But Hungary and Poland are problematic, yet no actions are planned.

Five new post-Brexit MEPs to watch

Five MEPs to keep an eye on from the 27 new members who are joining the European Parliament this week, following the UK's departure from the EU.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  3. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers call for post-corona synergies between economic recovery and green transition
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic co-operation on COVID-19
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic research collaboration on pandemics

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking Europe’s Economy Circular – the time is now
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  3. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  4. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us