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Eoin O'Malley

Former employer: 
BusinessEurope
Former function: 
Senior adviser on international relations
New function: 
Policy officer
New employer: 
European Commission, DG Trade
Nationality: 
Ireland
Policy area: 
Date of Revolving Door: 
June, 2010
Institutional reaction: 

The Commission has told CEO that it has no documents which indicate that Eoin O'Malley underwent an assessment of personal interests when he joined the Commission. The Commission points out that “the obligation to fill in a form upon recruitment by a candidate in order to examine any personal interest or potential conflicts of interest” only came into force on 1 January 2014.

Other info: 

For the four years to June 2010, O'Malley worked at BusinessEurope as a senior adviser on international relations. BusinessEurope is an umbrella group for corporate interests and is one of Brussels' biggest and most influential lobby groups. It registers 22 European Parliament staff lobbyists and a lobby expenditure of over €4,000,000 - €4,249,999 for 2014 according to the EU's transparency register.

CEO first came across O'Malley in 2008 in the context of the EU-India trade deal. In February 2008, DG Trade‘s Frauke Sommer emailed Eoin O‘Malley to alert BusinessEurope that the Indian government had just published a list of sensitive products on its website for which it could demand exemption from tariff elimination. BusinessEurope speedily responded and the day before the then Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson met with the then Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry Kamal Nath, the lobby group wrote to Mandelson to criticise the Indian list. As CEO reported at the time:

“Mandelson, thanked the lobby group for the,“timely reinforcement” of his position and assured BusinessEurope that their interests “coincide with my own priority concerns and were discussed extensively”. In a hand-written note, he suggested a get together between European and Indian industry groups to pave the ground for a compromise.”

According to information from the Commission, Eoin O'Malley joined DG SANCO in June 2010 as a policy officer working on consumer safety, and later moved to DG Trade in February 2012 where he was a speech-writer. The Commission has refused to release any speeches or policy documents worked upon by O'Malley since he joined the Commission. Since May 2013, he has been a policy officer at DG Trade contributing to the “development of trade policy in the field of communications and speech-writing”. According to the European commission's staff directory, O'Malley is part of the trade strategy team at DG Trade.

In March 2015, O'Malley was advertised as the “policy officer in charge of SMEs” at this event called: The impact of TTIP in Malta: Benefits and challenges organised by the Malta Chamber of Commerce and the Employers' Group of the European Economic and Social Committee. The latter's twitter account reported on O'Malley's speech saying: “Eoin O'Malley, DG Trade: #EC needs business input & participation in debate. People need to know what economic benefits are. #TTIP #Malta” and additionally: “Eoin O'Malley, DG Trade: strategic side of #TTIP – the more comprehensive the agreement is, the more influence we will have, #Malta”.

TTIP and BusinessEurope

BusinessEurope has substantial interests in the work of DG Trade, including in TTIP. In fact BusinessEurope has been the most prolific EU lobbyist on DG Trade with regards to TTIP, according to data produced by CEO covering the period January 2012 to February 2014. In these two years, it had 15 meetings with DG Trade officials, attended civil society dialogues and submitted formal letters and position papers.

More precisely, between April 2013 and October 2014 alone, BusinessEurope had numerous interactions with DG Trade on TTIP including sending at least nine formal letters, numerous position papers; and attending 15 or so meetings, workshops or committees during the period.

As well as work on specific sectors, BusinessEurope has been at the forefront of promoting the 'regulatory cooperation' agenda which would give business a pivotal role in preparations for new regulation. BusinessEurope's ambition (developed in conjunction with the US chamber of commerce) was to make sure business would,“essentially ‘co-write regulation”; through a process,“oriented to allow stakeholders as well as regulators to identify entire sectors and regulations within sectors that are potentially ripe for an equivalence evaluation” ie. not having one side with stricter regulations than the other. Regulatory cooperation is one of the most controversial aspects of TTIP and could affect the rules affecting food safety, the environment, finance and other important areas.

BusinessEurope's lobbying has paid off; its regulatory cooperation proposal has been largely adopted by the Commission.

According to data released to CEO under access to documents, O'Malley has had some contact with BusinessEurope whilst at the Commission, including being invited to a leaving do of a former BusinessEurope colleague.

This is not the first time that BusinessEurope has exported staff to the Commission. Please see the two RevolvingDoorWatch profiles on Mårten Westrup, here and here.

Before he worked for BusinessEurope, O'Malley was a senior policy officer to the American chamber of commerce to the EU and as an adviser to the European Services Forum where he briefed members on transatlantic trade issues.

CEO contacted Eoin O'Malley beore publishing this profile; however, DG Trade replied on his behalf to say

“We've no particular elements to contribute by way of response to your questions in relation to individual situations”.

CEO's report on revolving door cases related to TTIP can be found here.

Comment from CEO: 

“Since Eoin O'Malley joined the Commission, the revolving door rules for incoming staff have been significantly tightened and now all new staff members must undergo a conflict of interest assessment. There is no suggestion that O'Malley has acted improperly in any way. But for CEO, this revolving door case illustrates the ideological closeness between the major corporate lobbyist BusinessEurope and the Commission when staff can move from one organisation to the other without anyone, apparently, batting an eyelid.”

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