Ex-EU Finance Commissioner Jonathan Hill’s new role as Brexit advisor at major Swiss investment bank UBS is the latest illustration of the EU Commission’s serious revolving door problem. Less than two years after leaving the institution, the former high-ranking EU official has just taken up employment in the very industry he previosuly regulated.
Corporate Europe Observatory’s transparency and ethics campaigner Margarida Silva said: "UBS stands to benefit from Hill’s insider know-how, influence, and access to relevant actors in the EU administration and the political level of the EU Commission. All of these are privileges which are exclusive to former Commissioners, making strict revolving door rules vital.
"To make matters worse, Hill will be providing advice on Brexit - one of the biggest crises facing the EU. As the Barrosogate scandal has shown, few things shake public confidence in the European Union as much as ex-officials cashing in on their status as former members of the EU political elite. In the context of Brexit, this makes Hill’s move an extremely cynical one."
Hill himself is a serial offender when it comes to revolving door mover, having joined the Commission after a career in corporate lobbying and public office in the UK. Since leaving the Commission, he has accepted at least five different roles with big business.
Notes to editors:
As the latest chapter of the Barrosogate scandal confirmed, ex-Commissioners are able to easily organise informal chats with sitting Commissioners. See ALTER-EU’s wrap up of ex-EU Commission President turned Goldman Sachs advisor Barroso’s get-together with EU Commissioner Katainen.
Research from Yiorgos Vassalos and Corporate Europe Observatory has shown that since the onset of the financial crisis in 2007-08 two of the three Commissioners for finance have gone through the revolving door into financial industry jobs.
Other roles Hill has taken up since leaving the Commission include:
Senior Adviser, Deloitte (professional services network)
Senior Adviser, Aviva plc (insurance)
Hill’s career has included several moves between UK corporate lobby industry and public office, rendering him an unsuitable choice for the EU Commission's top financial and banking policy post. When MEPs quizzed him about his past roles as part of the confirmation process to become a Commissioner in 2014, he refused to answer any questions about his former lobby clients.
Hill took up the new role at UBS after the end of his 18-month notification period during which the Code of Conduct required him to notify the Commission of any proposed new roles. New rules for Commissioners have since been introduced - in February 2018 -, extending the notification period for ex-Commissioners to 24 months, but without retrospective application. Yet, as the European Ombudsman has pointed out, a Commissioner’s « duty to act with integrity and discretion under Article 245 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (‘TFEU’) (...) are not time limited. See Corporate Europe Observatory’s analysis of the Code of Conduct for Commissioners.
Margarida Silva, firstname.lastname@example.org, +32 (0)2 893 0930