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Louis Michel

Former employer: 
European Commission
Former function: 
Commissioner for development and humanitarian aid
New function: 
Board member
New employer: 
Credimo
Nationality: 
Belgium
Policy area: 
Date of Revolving Door: 
June, 2010
Institutional reaction: 

The move was approved by the Commission without reference to the ad hoc ethics committee and no restrictions were applied.

Other info: 

Louis Michel left the Commission in July 2009 after being elected as an MEP. In June 2010, he approached the Commission for authorisation to become a board member at Credimo, a Belgian mortgage and life insurance company. He resigned from the Credimo board six months later in January 2011 because

my parliamentary work and my many missions did not allow me to undertake this mandate properly and exercise meaningful control over the activity of this institution, which is one of the normal duties of an administrator.” (Translated by CEO.)

Louis Michel has denied that this revolving door move could provoke a conflict of interest saying:

“As confirmed by the opinion of the Commission and the European Parliament it was impossible that there could be a conflict of interest because the two institutions have confirmed that there was no incompatibility.”

The payment for a Credimo director is €10,000 per annum. Michel has told CEO that any monies owed to him by Credimo (€5000) were paid to the Liberal Institute for Training and Cultural (ILFAC) and that he paid tax on this sum of €2500.

All ex-commissioners are entitled to between 40 and 65 per cent of their final basic salary for the three years after they have left office. The transitional allowance scheme also allows ex-commissioners to earn up to a further €9000 (approximately) a month from other sources without their pay-out being affected.

At the time, the Belgian daily De Standaard and the European Voice quoted Michel as saying, in defence of his receipt of a commissioner's transitional allowance:

“The rule was implemented because commissioners do not have the right to get a job in the private sector connected to their previous policy areas in the first years after the end of their mandate. Do they rather want me to use the contact book I had as commissioner in the private sector?”.

Michel told De Standaard that he had received €8000 from the Commission allowance, plus his basic MEP salary, which in total was €2500 less than what he made as a commissioner.

CEO contacted Louis Michel about this revolving door move. His response can be read in full here.

For more information see: Revolving door provides privileged access

Comment from CEO: 

“The transitional allowance, the purpose of which is to enable ex-commissioners to not have to seek out immediate new employment, and thus avoid the risk of possible conflicts of interests, clearly needs to be reformed. In Louis Michel's case, the transitional allowance scheme did not prevent him from becoming a board member at a major Belgian finance corporation, even though he accepted no direct remuneration for this role. In CEO's view, the transitional allowance for three years should match a cooling-off period for three years on lobby jobs (or other jobs which provoke the risk of a conflict of interest) after they have left the Commission.”

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