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Radical Change Needed to Restore Faith in Scandal Hit European Commission - MEPs

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European Parliament - Sputnik International
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MEPs are demanding radical changes in the conduct of European Commissioners to help restore faith in Europe's political institutions.

The call follows a series of scandals that have hit the reputation of the European Union's executive body.

These include the recent Bahamas leaks which showed that former Commissioner Neelie Kroes failed to declare her directorship of an offshore firm while in her post in Brussels.

Kroes, who is now a paid adviser to Bank of America and Uber, has been called upon to explain why she kept it hidden.

The MEPs urged a tightening of the code of conduct during a debate on the business ties of past and present Commissioners with EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici.

Moscovici said that the Commission wants EU citizens to know that Commissioners act "exclusively in the interests of Europe".

"Any conflict of interest therefore needs to be avoided, and there are very strict rules for this already in place. But the rules should also go hand in hand with personal responsibility," he added.

Former Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has also found himself under the spotlight after he took up a post with investment bank Goldman Sachs this summer.

An EU staff petition calling on Barroso to give up his EU pension for bringing the institution into disrepute has received over 75,000 signatures. 

Former President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso - Sputnik International
EU Employees Start Petition Against Ex-Chief Barroso's Goldman Sachs Lobby Role

The petition accuses Barosso of "morally reprehensible" behavior and says him taking the job is a "a gift horse for europhobes."

In response to the scandals, the MEPs want to see a prolonged "cooling off period" before ex-Commissioners can join the private sector. They have also proposed the Commission's Ad hoc Ethical Committee to be made independent and able to take decisions on suitable jobs for previous Commissioners.

Brussels will be keen to clean up the image of its institutions at a time when Euroscepticism is growing across the continent. Britain is set to exit the union after a referendum in June and criticism of the EU is boosting opposition parties in France and Germany.

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