Corporate Europe Observatory

Exposing the power of corporate lobbying in the EU

EU officials going through Brussels' revolving door to lobby industry exposed

Brussels, 7 December 2011 – Eight new cases illustrating the extent of Brussels' revolving door problem are exposed today with the launch of the Corporate Europe Observatory's new RevolvingDoorWatch.

The eight cases feature individuals who have moved through the revolving door from the European institutions, including the Commission, into private sector lobbying jobs – apparently without the proper checks or adequate restrictions being imposed. 

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Corporate Europe Observatory says that the easy shift from the EU institutions to private sector lobby jobs can create serious conflicts of interest and lead to privileged access by corporate interests.

Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) campaigner Vicky Cann said:

“The revolving door is at the heart of Brussels' lobbying problem. The Commission claims it has 'strict rules' to tackle this problem, but RevolvingDoorWatch shows that some staff ignore the rules, the rules have serious loopholes, and are not implemented in a way which will genuinely tackle conflicts of interest. This reveals a real problem at the heart of the policy-making process. Business interests recruit former Commission insiders to give advice and even to promote policies that favour their interests, exploiting connections and insider know-how, at the expense of good public policy.”

The eight new cases are:

  • David Harley, a top European Parliament official from the UK with 35 years experience, who is now Senior Adviser at, and co-chair of, one of Brussels' biggest lobby firms Burson-Marsteller. CEO has submitted a complaint about how this case was handled.

  • Pablo Asbo from Spain, a DG Competition case handler for 6 years, who is now Associate Director for Competition at Avisa Partners. At least one of Avisa's current clients was party to a case that Asbo dealt with whilst at DG Competition.

  • Eline Post from the Netherlands was also a case handler at DG Competition who is now a senior consultant for competition at Avisa Partners. Neither Post nor Asbo had authorisation for these moves until CEO raised these cases with the Commission; CEO has submitted complaints about both of these cases.

  • David Carlander from Sweden was Scientific Officer at the European Food Safety Authority, working on guidance for the use of nanotechnology in food and has just joined the Nanotechnology Industries Association as Director of Advocacy.

  • Isabel Ortiz from Spain left the Food Industry Unit at DG Enterprise to become Director of Consumer Information, Diet and Health at lobby group FoodDrinkEurope.

  • Parvez Khan was financial attaché (on loan from UK Financial Services Authority) to the UK Permanent Representation in Brussels and has now joined lobby company G+ Europe, which represents RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland), amongst others.

  • Erika Mann, the German former MEP, first joined the Computer & Communications Industry Association in Europe and she is now a Brussels lobbyist for Facebook.

  • Magnus Ovilius from Sweden left his role as Head of Sector, Preparedness and Crisis Management at DG Justice, Freedom and Security, to become Senior Vice President Government Relations at Smiths Group plc.

More information on each of these cases can be found on Corporate Europe Observatory's brand new RevolvingDoorWatch webportal http://www.corporateeurope.org/revolvingdoorwatch [1]

RevolvingDoorWatch highlights the speed with which Brussels' revolving door is spinning and exposes how inadequate the present rules are in preventing these moves [2]. The site will include details of EU staff moving into private sector lobbying jobs and of staff who move from lobbying into the EU institutions, without any cooling off period being imposed. MEPs and senior Member State officials based in Brussels will also feature [3]. CEO will be adding and updating cases in the coming weeks and months ahead.

RevolvingDoorWatch is a CEO contribution to the campaign run by the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) to block the revolving door [4]. CEO and ALTER-EU are urging Commissioner Maroš Šefčovič to introduce new rules to tackle the revolving door. A review of the existing Staff Regulations (which contains the current revolving door rules) is already underway although the revolving door is not yet on the agenda. New rules should include:

  • A mandatory cooling-off period of at least two years for all EU institution staff members entering lobbying or lobby advisory jobs, or any other job which could provoke a conflict of interest with their work as an EU official

  • Greater transparency regarding job moves, with all EU decisions on revolving door cases published online

  • EU institutions to scrutinise all staff joining their employment for potential conflicts of interest under revolving door rules.

ENDS

Contact: Vicky Cann, Corporate Europe Observatory, tel: +32 28 93 09 30, mobile: +32 489 596 478

Notes:

[1] Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) is a research and campaign group working to expose and challenge the privileged access and influence enjoyed by corporations and their lobby groups in EU policy making.

[2] RevolvingDoorWatch can be found at: http://www.corporateeurope.org/revolvingdoorwatch and it will be updated regularly with new cases and further information.

[3] MEPs and Member State officials based in Brussels and working on EU affairs are not covered by the EU institution rules relating to the revolving door, but are included in RevolvingDoorWatch in order to demonstrate the scale of the problem.

[4] ALTER-EU's new report “Block the revolving door: why we need to stop EU officials becoming lobbyists” can be found here: http://www.alter-eu.org/revolving-doors RevolvingDoorWatch also includes updates to the revolving door cases featured in the ALTER-EU report.

Corporate Europe Observatory says that the easy shift from the EU institutions to private sector lobby jobs can create serious conflicts of interest and lead to privileged access by corporate interests.Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) campaigner Vicky Cann said:“The revolving door is at the heart of Brussels' lobbying problem. The Commission claims it has 'strict rules' to tackle this problem, but RevolvingDoorWatch shows that some staff ignore the rules, the rules have serious loopholes, and are not implemented in a way which will genuinely tackle conflicts of interest. This reveals a real problem at the heart of the policy-making process. Business interests recruit former Commission insiders to give advice and even to promote policies that favour their interests, exploiting connections and insider know-how, at the expense of good public policy.”The eight new cases are:David Harley, a top European Parliament official from the UK with 35 years experience, who is now Senior Adviser at, and co-chair of, one of Brussels' biggest lobby firms Burson-Marsteller. CEO has submitted a complaint about how this case was handled.Pablo Asbo from Spain, a DG Competition case handler for 6 years, who is now Associate Director for Competition at Avisa Partners. At least one of Avisa's current clients was party to a case that Asbo dealt with whilst at DG Competition.Eline Post from the Netherlands was also a case handler at DG Competition who is now a senior consultant for competition at Avisa Partners. Neither Post nor Asbo had authorisation for these moves until CEO raised these cases with the Commission; CEO has submitted complaints about both of these cases.David Carlander from Sweden was Scientific Officer at the European Food Safety Authority, working on guidance for the use of nanotechnology in food and has just joined the Nanotechnology Industries Association as Director of Advocacy.Isabel Ortiz from Spain left the Food Industry Unit at DG Enterprise to become Director of Consumer Information, Diet and Health at lobby group FoodDrinkEurope.Parvez Khan was financial attaché (on loan from UK Financial Services Authority) to the UK Permanent Representation in Brussels and has now joined lobby company G+ Europe, which represents RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland), amongst others.Erika Mann, the German former MEP, first joined the Computer & Communications Industry Association in Europe and she is now a Brussels lobbyist for Facebook.Magnus Ovilius from Sweden left his role as Head of Sector, Preparedness and Crisis Management at DG Justice, Freedom and Security, to become Senior Vice President Government Relations at Smiths Group plc.More information on each of these cases can be found on Corporate Europe Observatory's brand new RevolvingDoorWatch webportal http://www.corporateeurope.org/revolvingdoorwatch [1]RevolvingDoorWatch highlights the speed with which Brussels' revolving door is spinning and exposes how inadequate the present rules are in preventing these moves [2]. The site will include details of EU staff moving into private sector lobbying jobs and of staff who move from lobbying into the EU institutions, without any cooling off period being imposed. MEPs and senior Member State officials based in Brussels will also feature [3]. CEO will be adding and updating cases in the coming weeks and months ahead.RevolvingDoorWatch is a CEO contribution to the campaign run by the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) to block the revolving door [4]. CEO and ALTER-EU are urging Commissioner Maroš Šefčovič to introduce new rules to tackle the revolving door. A review of the existing Staff Regulations (which contains the current revolving door rules) is already underway although the revolving door is not yet on the agenda. New rules should include:A mandatory cooling-off period of at least two years for all EU institution staff members entering lobbying or lobby advisory jobs, or any other job which could provoke a conflict of interest with their work as an EU officialGreater transparency regarding job moves, with all EU decisions on revolving door cases published onlineEU institutions to scrutinise all staff joining their employment for potential conflicts of interest under revolving door rules.ENDSContact: Vicky Cann, Corporate Europe Observatory, tel: +32 28 93 09 30, mobile: +32 489 596 478Notes:[1] Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) is a research and campaign group working to expose and challenge the privileged access and influence enjoyed by corporations and their lobby groups in EU policy making.[2] RevolvingDoorWatch can be found at: http://www.corporateeurope.org/revolvingdoorwatch and it will be updated regularly with new cases and further information.[3] MEPs and Member State officials based in Brussels and working on EU affairs are not covered by the EU institution rules relating to the revolving door, but are included in RevolvingDoorWatch in order to demonstrate the scale of the problem.[4] ALTER-EU's new report “Block the revolving door: why we need to stop EU officials becoming lobbyists” can be found here: http://www.alter-eu.org/revolving-doors RevolvingDoorWatch also includes updates to the revolving door cases featured in the ALTER-EU report.
 

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