None. There is no regulation requiring former MEPs to seek authorisation for their subsequent activities.
Skinner was a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for 20 years until 2014 and he spent 15 years on the Parliament's economic and monetary affairs committee (ECON) until summer 2014. He was thus significantly involved in financial regulation, especially for the insurance sector. Now, he will join Allianz as a senior advisor on EU / international relations.
According to his own website, within the ECON committee Skinner took a “very keen interest” in financial services legislation. He says:
“Most recently I was the Rapporteur (Parliamentary Sponsor) for the creation of the new European Supervisory Authority for Insurance and Occupation Pensions. Before that I was responsible for the Solvency II Directive, a new law affecting insurance and reinsurance companies. I was also Rapporteur on the Reinsurance Directive and the Transparency Obligations Directive”.
These pieces of legislation will have been of high importance to the insurance industry and in March 2014, the Green MEP Sven Giegold criticised Skinner as being the “closest ally of the insurance lobby.”
The risk of conflicts of interest with Skinner's new job at Allianz could not be more obvious. He is going to work in exactly the field that he was responsible for regulating as an MEP. At Allianz, Skinner will work on “global regulatory issues, especially on climate protection and international financial issues as well as on European and transatlantic questions”.
Skinner is likely to bring a lot of insights on transatlantic policy questions. Between 1999 and 2014, he was a member of the European Parliament's delegation for relations with the United States. This delegation maintains strong ties with members of the US Congress. He has also been the European Parliament’s adviser on the Transatlantic Economic Council, part of the Transatlantic Legislators Dialogue, a transatlantic body consisting of US and EU representatives and he thus would have been closely involved in discussions around the proposed EU-US trade deal or TTIP.
Additionally he was a member of the parliamentary committee of the Transatlantic Policy Network (TPN), a lobby organisation run by large European and US corporations and politicians. Peter Sutherland, a member of Allianz' supervisory board, is the honorary EU president of the TPN. Skinner was also a member of the Atlantic Council, an influential think tank. In the context of its financial services task force, he regularly visited the United States to discuss issues relating to trade and financial services with senior US officials and members of Congress. Both, the TPN and Atlantic Council support an ambitious trade deal between the US and the EU.
Finally, Skinner was a member of the board of the European Parliamentary Financial Services Forum from 2004. The Forum was set up to foster the exchange between MEPs and lobbyists of the financial industry.
Thus, Skinner has worked in the field of financial policy and financial regulation for years. He was also able to establish an influential transatlantic network of contacts. Allianz is likely to profit not only from his expertise and insider knowledge of financial and insurance regulation, but also from the political contacts he was able to establish during his time as an MEP.
CEO contacted Peter Skinner in advance of publishing this article. In particular he told us:
“It has been agreed at Allianz that there should be a 12 month period where I will not be going to the EU institutions on behalf of Allianz. I am currently committed to have no formal meetings with MEPs as a representative of Allianz in my professional capacity until my 12 months is finished. I aim to be professional about what I can say and what I can do and not spoil friendships nor exploit relationships.”
His full response can be found here.
Allianz is in the EU lobby register and in 2013 it declared an annual lobby expenditure of €250,000 – €300,000. It currently has five lobbyists registered with the European Parliament and is a member of many industry lobby groups. Allianz has attended at least one TTIP stakeholder meeting with the European Commission.
Skinner is not the only ex-ECON MEP to go through the revolving door in recent months. In May, Corien Wortmann-Kool (Netherlands, centre-right) joined the supervisory board of AEGON, the insurance multinational. In July, the former vice-chair Arlene McCarthy (UK, centre-left) joined lobby firm Sovereign Strategy as deputy chair for European strategy. And in August, the former chair of ECON Sharon Bowles, joined the board of the London Stock Exchange Group as a non-executive director.
The rules in the European Parliament
The code of conduct for MEPs (approved in 2011) states that “Former Members of the European Parliament who engage in professional lobbying or representational activities directly linked to the European Union decision-making process may not, throughout the period in which they engage in those activities, benefit from the facilities granted to former Members under the rules laid down by the Bureau to that effect”.
However, there is no process to monitor or enforce this part of the code and ensure that former MEPs do not use their lifelong access pass for lobbying purposes.
When MEPs leave the European parliament they are entitled to a transitional allowance equivalent to one month's salary for every year they have been an MEP, with a minimum pay-out of six months' salary and a maximum of 24 months.
When asked if he had accepted the transitional allowance on top of his Allianz pay, Skinner told CEO: “This is a matter of the rules and procedures in the Parliament and l conform to the rules of the Parliament in this respect”.
“Yet again we see another prominent MEP from the influential economic and monetary affairs committee being snapped up by the finance industry soon after leaving office and it comes as no surprise that Allianz appears to have proactively recruited Skinner. Skinner says that he will have no contacts with the EU institutions for 12 months whilst wearing his Allianz hat. Yet this will not prevent him from providing copious amounts of valuable, behind-the-scenes lobby strategy advice to Allianz colleagues. Once again the MEP code of conduct, which has little to say about the problem of MEPs going through the revolving door, has been shown to be totally inadequate at regulating possible conflicts of interest.”