In January 2014, the Commission refused to provide any information on this case to CEO on the grounds that
“the Commission is currently looking into the matter in order to ascertain whether the rules have been fully complied with in this particular case.”
Subsequently, in a letter to CEO dated 22 April 2015, the Commission told us:
"Mr Pacheco submitted an application for authorisation to engage in an occupation after leaving the Commission in July 2013, whereby he declared that he would like to establish a private consulting firm ... the Appointing Authority gave its approval to Mr Pacheco to carry out this activity subject to the following conditions: in his function of owner of the company, he would have to require prior authorisation from the Appointing Authority on each project he would intend to start in the domain of agriculture. On 3 October 2013, Allen F Johnson Associates (AFJ) announced that Mr Pacheco had joined AFJ as "Director of European Markets". The Commission subsequently examined the issue and found that the press release gave the impression that Mr Pacheco was recruited by AFJ shortly after his retirement to the position of "Director of European market", in order to be responsible for matters related to his former position in the Commission, while in reality Mr Pacheco was a partner of AFJ. At the instigation of the Commission, and with the help of Mr Pacheco, the AFJ website has since rectified the information. There was no evidence that Mr Pacheco had breached the restrictions imposed by the Commission which allowed for entering into partnerships but required notification of specific projects. By decision of 5 December 2014, the Appointing Authority (ie. the Vice-President for the Budget and Human Resources) took the appropriate measure regarding Mr Pacheco, which for data protection reasons cannot be disclosed."
In September 2015, the Commission told us that it was looking into whether Pacheco followed the Staff Regulations vis a vis his activities with Farm Europe.
According to Pacheco's Linked-in profile (viewed 1 July 2015), he was deputy-director at DG agriculture for over two and half years and was responsible for the:
“management of EU Common Agriculture Policies, in particular domestic subsidies and markets. Envolved in negociations with the European Parliament and EU Council [sic].”
In 2013 whilst still deputy director-general of DG Agri, Pacheco addressed a seminar organised by the Washington International Trade Association on "overcoming the thorny issues of agriculture” in the context of TTIP (the EU-US trade negotiations). Prior to 2011, Pacheco was the EU's ambassador to Brazil for five years (where he apparently “participated in the creation and development of the EU-Brazil Strategic Partnership” and had “multiple contacts with Brazilian Administration and Congress” and in DG agriculture from 1992 to 2005 (where he was inter alia “responsible for WTO affairs [and] participated as negotiator in the Ministerial Conferences of Seattle, Doha and Cancun”.)
“provide[s] services to agribusiness firms and associations, dwelling in in-depth experience of European Union Agriculture Policies and Institutions, and International Trade negotiations.”
Remarkably, JSP advertises itself as offering
“a unique set of knowledge, experience and contacts, to provide consulting for agribusiness firms and associations. It offers deep and intimate knowledge of EU agriculture and food related policies. It offers key contacts to obtain accurate information, and efficiently explain and defend interests. JSP offers also high level consulting on international negotiations and representation. It provides decades of experience in the field, to assist clients to develop their international business and negotiations.”
The Commission authorised the creation of this consultancy but told Pacheco that “in his function of owner of the company, he would have to require prior authorisation from the Appointing Authority on each project he would intend to start in the domain of agriculture.” No subsequent requests for authorisations for agriculture-related projects appear to have been received by the Commission.
At the time of writing (6 July 2015), JSP is not listed in the EU's lobby transparency register and there is no list of clients on the firm's website. However its website says:
“We provide services to agribusiness firms and associations, dwelling in in-depth experience of European Union Agriculture Policies and Institutions, and International Trade negotiations.”
Allen F Johnson & Associates
Allen F Johnson & Associates (AFJ) is a US-based business and policy consultancy operating with a Brussels' office. This firm is no stranger to the revolving door phenomenon: Allen F Johnson himself served as the US chief agricultural negotiator at the office of the US trade representative from 2001-05.
In October 2013, the AFJ website said that Pacheco had become “director of European markets”. The biography for Pacheco listed on the AFJ website at the time made it abundantly clear why he has been hired and it trumpets Pacheco's EU insider credentials:
“... he has valuable unique experience in dealing with EU internal policies and the inner workings of the European Commission, interacting with the European Parliament and European Council, and working with all the European Union’s member states. Mr. Pacheco’s diverse international experience combined with his in depth knowledge of European affairs and markets provides a valuable perspective that will assist AFJ clients and partners in understanding the market and in addressing market access, subsidy, SPS, food safety, farm and trade policy, technology, and other issues.”
When CEO raised concerns about this new role and its potential links with Pacheco's former role at DG Agriculture, the Commission told CEO (in April 2015) that:
“The Commission subsequently examined the issue and found that the press release gave the impression that Mr Pacheco was recruited by AFJ shortly after his retirement to the position of "Director of European market", in order to be responsible for matters related to his former position in the Commission, while in reality Mr Pacheco was a partner of AFJ. At the instigation of the Commission, and with the help of Mr Pacheco, the AFJ website has since rectified the information.”
Yet Pacheco's own Linked-in profile, at least until 22 May 2014, also said that he was “Director for European Markets” at AFJ. This has now been amended to say “JSP has partnered with Ambassador Allen F. Johnson AFJ and Associates”.
AFJ and JSP share an identical office address: Level 4, 227, Rue de la Loi, Brussels which, handily, is very close to the Commission. They also share the same phone number.
Farm Europe is a new organisation, formally launched on 29 April 2015 in Brussels, self-describing itself as “a multicultural think tank that aims to stimulate thinking on rural economies” and “a new forum to connect people interested in a pro-European project for food and agriculture”. It seeks to : “strengthen contacts and informal exchanges with European partners involved in the future of the agri-food sector and who share the same European ambition: farmers organisations, cooperatives, private companies, EU institutions & scientists”.
The Farm Europe team, according to its website, comprises Joao Pacheco; Lars Hoelgaard (former deputy director general in DG Agri and former special advisor to the EU commissioner for climate action); and Yves Madre (a former senior advisor to European Commissioner for agriculture and rural development during the last CAP reform), and two others. The Commission appears to have not received any request for authorisation for Pacheco's work at Farm Europe; recently, the Farm Europe website was changed to include the phrase: “Joao is a prominent partner and contributor to Farm Europe”. You can read information about Madre's authorisation for his work at Farm Europe here which was apparently only submitted in August 2015. Hoelgaard did not need Commission authorisation to join Farm Europe, having left the Commission at the end of 2011.
Farm Europe is active on TTIP and trade policies more generally. It held a debate in June entitled “Trade: what is at stake for EU agriculture and food sectors”, with a specific focus on TTIP, addressed by DG Trade's director-general Jean-Luc Demarty and Pacheco, and it has produced a briefing on accessing new markets. Farm Europe says that Pacheco “oversees and stimulates the debate on all the trade related topic”.
Farm Europe has already had two lobby meetings with DG Trade which included discussions on trade and matters relating to TTIP. The first was between Yves Madre and an undisclosed official; the second was between Madre and DG Trade's director-general Jean-Luc Demarty. Farm Europe's launch event was addressed by Joost Koorte, deputy director general of DG Agriculture.
Farm Europe is registered with the EU lobby register. It discloses that four people carry out lobbying activities on its behalf, equivalent to 2.5 full time staff. It does not disclose any funding sources and for its members, it suggests that a regularly-updated list is available on its website. However, at the time of writing (6 July 2015), no such membership list is publicly available; the website says:
“Only governmental or institutional organisations, companies, universities, media, business and trade organisations can participate in the work of the think tank. Membership gives access to the work of the think tank, to all the staff of the member organisations, and to a wide range of publications, events, and workshops. We also organise VIP events for the leaders of our member organisations.”
This RevolvingDoorWatch profile was substantially re-written in July 2015. Joao Pacheco was contacted in advance of the publication of this updated RevolvingDoorWatch profile but he did not reply. In July 2015, CEO submitted a complaint to the Commission's Secretary General about the handling of this revolving doors case; an extremely disappointing was received.
CEO's report on revolving door cases related to TTIP can be found here.
“For CEO, this is a real test case of how committed the Commission is to taking tough action to block the revolving door, and in our view, it has failed. When a top EU official leaves the Commission and then sets up a consultancy to work on the same issues as when he was in public office, as well as joining a larger consultancy (either as "Director of European Markets" as Pacheco's linked in profile said at the time, or as a "partner"), and becoming part of the Farm Europe think tank, we should have concerns about the risk of possible conflicts of interest, particularly as this move could be directly relevant to very sensitive food and agriculture issues currently discussed in the framework of the TTIP negotiations. The Commission has failed to be accountable and transparent in its handling of this case and far more information needs to be placed in the public domain.”