The commission authorised Peter Faross to become secretary-general of UEAPME on the understanding that for 12 months following his appointment he would not undertake any lobbying on energy matters vis a vis his former colleagues.
Peter Faross worked for the European commission for over 30 years, and most recently “since 2008... [he was] Director of the "Nuclear Safety and Fuel Cycle" Directorate in Luxemburg and acting Deputy Director General for "Nuclear Energy" since 2010”. He retired from the commission in September 2013 and was then elected as secretary-general of UEAPME later that year.
According to its website, UEAPME is “an employers’ organisation representing the interests of European crafts, trades and SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises] at EU level … UEAPME represents more than 12 million enterprises, which employ around 55 million people across Europe.” According to its entry in the EU lobby transparency register, UEAPME is a major Brussels lobby player. For the year 2012 (the most recent year for which records are available), it recorded a lobby expenditure of €2,150,000 and recorded 15 members of staff working on lobbying matters. UEAPME is also part of the EU's social dialogue process.
The commission rejected another request for authorisation which Faross had made in which he requested authorisation to act as a paid mediator or moderator on behalf of the Bulgarian government “in the context of an international arbitration procedure” between Bulgaria and Russia on the troubled Belene nuclear power station project. The commission correctly concluded that the proposed work “is very closely related to the work you carried out during your last three years of service … and may lead to a conflict with the legitimate interests of the Commission.”
The proposed Belene nuclear power plant was planned to replace four ageing nuclear reactors which had to be de-commissioned as part of Bulgaria's entry to the EU. The controversial nuclear plant at Belene was supposed to be built by the Russian state energy company Rosatom but its construction was abandoned in 2012 and is now the subject of a diplomatic row and arbitration dispute between Bulgaria and Russia.
Mr Faross was contacted in advance of publication of this article, but no response was received.
Update July 2014
The ban on Faross lobbying his ex-colleagues on energy matters has not prevented UEAPME from publishing a position statement on EU energy policy in advance of the upcoming European council summit. UEAPME calls on future greenhouse gas reduction targets to be "realistic and economically feasible". Such policy advocacy by UEAPME and Faross highlights the limitations of the lobby ban imposed by the commission.
Update 14 December 2015
The Commission has now released its annual report on revolving door authorisations for senior officials in 2014. This report makes clear that Faross has been authorised to accept a further role, as independent service provider to Kaesler&Kollegen, providing advice to the Bulgarian government outside the area of nuclear energy, including on public procurement, validity of international agreements etc.
Update 17 February 2016
Further information on Faross' role at Kaesler&Kollegen is available here. The Commission placed an extended lobbying/ advocacy ban on Faross from 12 months to 18 months after leaving the Commission.
“In the case of Peter Faross' move to UEAPME from a senior role at DG energy, the commission appears to have implemented the revised EU staff regulations and implemented a ban on him lobbying on energy matters for 12 months. The question is: is this enough? For CEO the answer is no. UEAPME is a big EU lobby player (lobbying EU institutions is core to its purpose) and it seems ludicrous to think that a ban on the secretary-general lobbying his old colleagues on energy issues is enough to prevent the risk of conflicts of interest from arising. Such a senior official with 30 years of experience within the commission is likely to have accumulated a huge level of insider know-how and knowledge, contacts and influence, on energy and on other areas too. To prevent the risk of conflicts of interest arising, it seems to CEO that the commission should have gone further and implemented a cooling-off period or ban on Faross accepting this role.
On the other hand, the commission has made the right call in banning Faross from his proposed work as a moderator in the Belene nuclear power plant dispute, considering his previous responsibility for nuclear matters for the commission.”