In response to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists' Bahamas leaks, which revealed, among others, ex-EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes' offshore links, Corporate Europe Observatory's Vicky Cann said:
Today's ICIJ revelations about Neelie Kroes' involvement with an off-shore company looking to buy Enron assets, place further pressure on a Commission already under fire from its failure to tackle the revolving door in relation to Kroes and other Barroso II commissioners.
More recently we have seen Ms Kroes' brazen spins through the revolving door, to Bank of America Merrill Lynch, SalesForce and Uber, alongside the moves by former President Barroso to Goldman Sachs, and the move by former trade commisisoner Karel De Gucht to ArcelorMittal. All of these examples, and more, show the need for an urgent overhaul of rules relating to the ethics of commissioners, including on their declarations of interest and on revolving doors. The Commission is not up to the job: there needs to be completely independent oversight and decision-making of commissioners' ethics by a body with powers to investigate, verify and apply sanctions when needed.
The Commission said today that it was seeking further information from Kroes about her involvement in the firm and would also investigate any overlaps between her competition portfolio (2004-2010) and this firm. Yet, this is all happening a decade or more too late. The Commission's rules, procedures and sanctions should have been strong enough at the time to prevent such breaches; investigation after the fact must not be a figleaf for failures at the time.