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Jean De Ruyt

Former employer: 
Belgium Permanent Representation to the EU
Former function: 
Permanent Representative + Chair of the Committee of Perm Reps, 2010 Belgian Presidency of the Council
New function: 
Senior European policy advisor
New employer: 
Covington & Burling LLP
Nationality: 
Belgium
Policy area: 
Date of Revolving Door: 
January, 2012
Institutional reaction: 

None. As a former Belgian diplomat, Jean De Ruyt is not subject to the EU revolving door rules.

Other info: 

Jean De Ruyt is a former Belgian diplomat. He was Belgium's Permanent Representative to the EU and Chair of the Committee of Permanent Representatives during the 2010 Belgian Presidency of the Council. He then spent four months until January 2012 working as Special Envoy to Catherine Ashton, the EU's then high representative for Foreign Affairs. In a long career, he was also Permanent Representative of Belgium to the UN, to NATO and also Deputy Chief of Mission in Washington for 14 years. Following his retirement from diplomatic circles, De Ruyt joined Covington & Burling LLP, an international law firm with a major office in Brussels.

Covington & Burling (and De Ruyt himself) are active in Brussels' lobby scene. According to Covington's website, they

"ensure that industry’s voice is heard in the EU legislative process and in administrative decision making. Our capabilities in this field are greatly enhanced by our senior European Policy Advisor, Wim van Velzen, who served with distinction for over a decade in the European Parliament … and Ambassador Jean De Ruyt ... We have been active in dozens of legislative campaigns, often involving cutting edge proposals … Our services include legislative analysis, mobilizing coalitions, advocacy, strategic advice, and legislative and administrative procedural expertise. We also have particular experience in developing outreach efforts in relation to Commission competition law investigations.”

As Covington's Peter Bogaert said at the time of De Ruyt's appointment:

“Jean is a tremendous addition to Covington’s existing government affairs capabilities in Europe and internationally. His knowledge of the European institutions and the complex interplay between EU, U.N. and U.S. policies and his strategic insights on complex matters are second to none and we are confident his arrival will significantly support our legal team and will be welcomed by many of our clients.”

Covington's on-line profile of De Ruyt trumpets his insider knowledge and background and make clear that he is part of the “Covington's transatlantic government affairs team,” advising clients “on a range of European public affairs issues, including the EU policy-making processes, functioning of the European institutions, development of EU legislation and accession of new EU members.”

Elsewhere, Covington makes clear that De Ruyt is a member of Covington's TTIP trade team, together with other members of the Brussels and Washington offices, almost all of whom are former revolving door-ers from the highest levels.

Covington is actively pitching for clients on TTIP, producing blogs and speeches on the topic; and as a law firm, Covington is likely to have particularly strong interest in the ISDS (investment state dispute settlement) mechanism which, if included, in the final deals on TTIP and with Canada (CETA), will provide huge profit opportunities for lawyers to legally challenge government policy decisions that multinational corporations don't like.

Covington (very belatedly) joined the voluntary EU lobby register in May 2015, declaring the equivalent of seven full-time lobbyists and an annual lobby turnover of more than €1,000,000 for the year to September 2014 (viewed 1 July 2015). Clients include Microsoft and many from the Big Pharma sector: Eli Lilly; Sanofi Pasteur; Cubist Pharmaceuticals; European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries & Associations (EFPIA); and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. Covington does not mention TTIP in its lobby registration as an issue that it is following. It did not respond to CEO's 2014 survey of law firms and lobby consultancies about its work on TTIP.

In the US, where Covington is forced to be far more transparent because of the mandatory lobby transparency register, it is clear that trade is one of the issues that it has been working on in 2015. It has declared a total lobbying income of $3,490,000 for 2015 so far (2014 total was $11,537,000); many of its nearly 50 lobby clients are likely to have an interest in TTIP. In 2014, it had 11 individuals working on trade lobbying; for 2015, it already lists eight. (All information from Open Secrets).

De Ruyt has not responded to questions put to him by CEO. Nonetheless, he did speak to the New York Times in October 2013 in an article which looked at the growth of US law firms lobbying in Brussels.

The NYT reported on a lobby strategy session at Covington's Brussels' office

“where four lobbyists discussed plans with a partner to try to influence debates on trade negotiations, data privacy and pharmaceuticals ... Mr. De Ruyt shared with the team the close ties he has with the new United States ambassador to the European Union — a relationship sure to come in handy as new client matters emerge.”

De Ruyt was reported as saying he had learned the art of influencing decisions, instead of just making them:

“There is a certain excitement of getting what you want through the system. I now know exactly how to do it.”

A further US article from The Hill in 2013 reflects upon the move of US lobby and law firms to set up shop in Brussels and the value of revolving door recruitment to grease the wheels of influence. It argues that clients see the value of simultaneous lobby pressure in Washington and Brussels to achieve objectives, especially around harmonising regulations. “The real game-changer here is to rationalize the regulatory regimes”, John Veroneau, an ex-deputy US trade representative with Covington told The Hill. “There will be some that will see rationalization as a good thing. … But there will be some companies and industry sectors who like the status quo and don’t want things to change.”

De Ruyt's work at Covington & Burling is conducted via his consultancy firm JDR Consulting which has a further client, McLarty Associates where De Ruyt is on the “Board of Counselors and Senior Advisor, Europe & Eurasia Practice”. McLarty is a group of “former diplomats, trade negotiators, intelligence officers, journalists, and business people” who “work to analyze the international opportunity or problem, assess the tools available to the client, develop the strategy, and execute it – all in close coordination with the client”.

McLarty Associates is not in the EU lobby although its website makes clear that it conducts EU lobbying:

... at the EU, we facilitated high-level contacts in the European Commission for a US telecom company to assist it in obtaining regulatory approval for sales into European institutions.”

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

This RevolvingDoorWatch profile was substantially re-written in July 2015.

Comment from CEO: 

“The career of De Ruyt represents a classic Brussels revolving doors move: a seasoned diplomat after decades of public services at the elite level, moves into the private sector and uses his reputation, insider know-how and policy insights to aide private sector interests. For trans-Atlantic law firms such as Covington, TTIP represents a huge opportunity and De Ruyt's background makes him an ideal front man.”

 

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