Ex-Commissioners’ jobs: Juncker breaks promises on preventing conflicts of interest

28 October 2015

Ex-Commissioners’ jobs: Juncker breaks promises on preventing conflicts of interest

Lobbying watchdogs Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) and Lobby Control today published a report which shows that many members of the second Barroso Commission, whose term expired last year, have accepted jobs which don’t stand up to scrutiny. ‘It’s hard to understand how a former European Commissioner such as Viviane Reding can claim with a straight face that her activities at the Bertelsmann Foundation are not aimed at influencing the European institutions,’ says SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong. ‘To influence policy is precisely why this foundation was established. Yet she received permission to take this post from the current Commission under Jean-Claude Juncker. No wonder that people in Europe have no confidence in these EU institutions. The influence of the corporate lobby reaches to the very highest level.’

As co-chair of the European Parliament Integrity Transparency Corruption and Organised Crime Intergroup – a cross-party body – De Jong wrote to the president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker in November 2014 calling on him to take responsibility. ´Juncker sent a very nice answer, assuring the Intergroup that the Commission applies the highest ethical standards in its assessment of jobs taken by ex-Commissioners,’ he says. ‘He sent a similar answer to the European Ombudswoman after she had complained about a lack of transparency in relation to this. Now we see a piece of research from CEO and Lobby Control that shows that these were nothing more than fine words. Ex-Commissioners can accept just about any job they like, and conflicts of interest have not been brought to an end.’

De Jong’s proposals, presented in the name of the Intergroup, called for tightening up the independent assessment of ex-Commissioners’ new jobs and for an extension of the period during which approval for new jobs must be sought from eighteen months to three years. These were rejected by Juncker. ´Juncker referred in doing this to the administrative rigmarole which these proposals would involve,’ says De Jong. ‘This is, however, merely an opportunistic argument when you think that in other matters the Commission has no hesitation in, for instance lumbering member states with endless reporting obligations. Clearly it still hasn’t sunk in with Juncker that people are fed up of this old boys’ and girls’ network and its job carousel. In the European Parliament I intend to continue to put pressure on the Commission, including during the debate on the EU budget, to tighten up its integrity policy when it comes to ex-Commissioners. They haven’t heard the last of this.’

You are here