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In Barroso case, Ethics Committee shows its impotence

31 October 2016

In Barroso case, Ethics Committee shows its impotence

The European Commission’s Ethics Committee today published its advice regarding the appointment of former Commission president Jose Barroso to investment bank Goldman Sachs.

SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong finds its conclusions extremely disappointing, as he explains: “The Committee recognises that the appointment has created a great deal of social unrest, yet goes on to observe that, however ill-advised it may be, the appointment is not in contravention of the integrity rules. The Committee’s impotence demonstrates that the integrity rules as well as the working methods and composition of the body are not fit for purpose. I expect Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans, who’s responsible for integrity policy, to rapidly introduce measures to tackle this sort of practice by former Commissioners.”

Previously De Jong, as co-chair of the European Parliament Intergroup on Transparency, a network of MEPs from different political groups, has called for a tightening up of the rules, but the Commission has as yet made no move to respond. “The Commission is always going on about creating wider support for the EU, so they should take the Ethics Committee’s remarks about social unrest seriously,” he says. “That means increasing from eighteen months to three years the period during which former European Commissioners are barred from taking on any position which could involve a conflict of interests. In addition, there should be binding directives in which the Commission lays down what it sees as acceptable behaviour by former Commissioners. Finally, the Ethics Committee must be made truly independent. This judgment itself shows that this Committee continues to operate from inside the Brussels bubble. For important tasks like this we need experts from outside the bubble.”

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