04:53 GMT02 December 2020
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    Plans to shake-up the rules over so-called 'revolving doors' jobs taken up by former European Commissioner following a series of scandals, including ex-President Barroso, have been slammed as "a plaster for a whole ethics regime that is in desperate need of an overhaul."

    The 'revolving doors' scandal arose when Jose Manuel Barroso — who was Commission president from 2004 to 2014 — was appointed non-executive chairman of Goldman Sachs International (GSI), taking on the most senior lobbying role based in London ahead of critical negotiations over Brexit and the future of financial services in the EU.

    In an effort to show the Commission is cleaning up its act, Juncker has announced his intention to tighten the Code of Conduct for Commissioners extending the "cooling-off" period from currently 18 months to two years for former Commissioners and to three years for the President of the Commission. 

    "These proposals are just a plaster for a whole ethics regime that is in desperate need of an overhaul, as the response to recent revelations about Commissioner Oettinger show. What is needed now is bold reforms, including a new and completely independent ethics body with real teeth," said Carl Dolan, Director of Transparency International EU.

    Members of international NGO Transparency International wear masks depicting (from L) former European Commissioner for Justice Viviane Reding, former European Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht and former European Commission head Jose Manuel Barosso, during a demonstration at the EU Headquarters in Brussels on October 12, 2016 against Jose Manuel Barosso's decision to work for Goldman Sachs.
    © AFP 2020 / John Thys
    Members of international NGO Transparency International wear masks depicting (from L) former European Commissioner for Justice Viviane Reding, former European Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht and former European Commission head Jose Manuel Barosso, during a demonstration at the EU Headquarters in Brussels on October 12, 2016 against Jose Manuel Barosso's decision to work for Goldman Sachs.

    Independent or Not?

    "In the light of recent experience made with Members of the previous Commission, I feel that our Code of Conduct should be tightened in order to set the highest ethical standards possible for cases of conflict of interest. For the future, I want notably to extend the cooling off period for former Presidents to three years. Tighter rules are certainly not sufficient to bring about acceptable ethical behavior in all cases. But they are an indispensable starting point," Juncker said.

    ​Transparency International EU is calling for the College of Commissioners to be relieved from taking ethics decisions on former colleagues and replacing it with a body overseeing revolving door issues in the Commission and Parliament.

    The Barroso case is similar to that of Austria's former European Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner who took a job with Spanish wind turbine exporter Gamesa the same month she had quit the Commission in 2010.

    There was also criticism that former Dutch Commissioner Neelie Kroes was found to have been the director of a company that was established in 2000 in the Bahamas to be the vehicle for a proposed deal to acquire some of energy company Enron's assets. She had not declared that directorship when becoming a commissioner.

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    Tags:
    lobbying, lobbyists, transparency, European Commission, Transparency International, Goldman Sachs, Neelie Kroes, Jean-Claude Juncker, Jose Manuel Barroso, Europe, Brussels
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