• Dansk
  • NL
  • EN
  • FI
  • FR
  • DE
  • EL
  • IT
  • NO
  • PL
  • PT
  • RO
  • SL
  • ES
  • SV

Ethics committee advice to not sanction Barroso highlights weakness of Code of Conduct for ex-Commissioners

Reacting to the European Commission’s Ad-hoc Ethical Committee recommendation not to sanction former Commission President Barroso for joining Goldman Sachs International, Corporate Europe Observatory’s transparency campaigner Vicky Cann said:

“The committee’s opinion that Barroso did not breach the EU Treaty when he joined Goldman Sachs as non-executive chairman and adviser flies in the face of the moral outrage expressed by citizens, MEPs, EU institution staff and the French President.

“The recommendation really highlights the weakness of the Commissioners’ Code of Conduct. Its 18-month cooling-off period is far too short to prevent conflicts of interest and the central notions of integrity and discretion are neither properly defined nor linked to concrete rules.

“On top of that, the ethics committee itself is flawed. The Commission keeps affirming its independence even though one of three members is a former Commission director-general and another is married to the former head of a Commission task force. It looks like the current recommendation was formed without interviewing Barroso, and the committee has simply accepted his statement that he won’t lobby for Goldman Sachs without even probing what is meant by ‘lobbying’.

“Combine flawed rules with a flawed process and you get the flawed recommendation we are now seeing. More than 200,000 citizens have criticised Barroso’s move to the banking giant because of its responsibility in the economic crisis, the Greek debt crisis and its brazen lobbying against EU financial regulation. To save the Commission from losing all credibility, President Juncker must finally listen to the criticism that still sounds from all sides - even the committee notes that Barroso did not exert 'considerate judgement' when joining the bank.

"There is no question that Barroso must be sanctioned. But even more importantly, the ethics committee must be comprehensively reformed to enable fully independent decision-making, while the cooling-off period and lobby ban must be extended to at least three years for ex-commissioners and five years for former Commission Presidents."

Contact details:

Theresa Crysmann
Media Officer
Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO)
theresa@corporateeurope.org
+32 4889 23690

Related issues: 
 
The latest revelations about ‘Steelie’ Neelie Kroes show that, when it comes to ethics and transparency, the Commission is complaisant about conflicts of interest and far too relaxed about the risk of corporate capture.
In an attempt to fix its public image, Dieselgate-shaken Volkswagen names former EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard as member of its new ‘Sustainability Council’. Although the role is unpaid, it is highly questionable whether Volkswagen is actually committed to making up for its previous foul play.

CEO's reaction to the the Bahamas leaks, which revealed ex-EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes' offshore links.

The Juncker Commission last week informed the European Ombudsman that it would refer Barroso’s appointment as chairman of Goldman Sachs to its Ad hoc Ethical Committee. But what is the Ad hoc Ethical Committee, who sits on it and what is it likely to say?

CEO welcomes the very strongly worded final ruling by European Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly in her inquiry into the Commission's implementation of UN rules for contacts with tobacco industry lobbyists.

CEO joined forces with nine other civil society organisations working for equality, non-discrimination, transparent decision-making and strong ethics rules: in an open letter to the European Parliament we urge MEPs to oppose Oettinger’s appointment as the Comission’s head of human resources.

After nine months of hearings, the draft report of the EU Parliament's inquiry into the Dieselgate scandal has it black on white: the European Commission and EU member states had known since 2004-05 that diesel cars' nitrogen oxide emissions were far above legal limits - yet neither took action.

Our new report shows how industry lobbies present employee protection against work-related cancers as an 'unnecessary' burden on companies, and explains which tactics have been used to weaken and delay the European Union's revision of the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive.

Subscribe to our newsletter