Thursday, November 24, 2016

EU Kaos: After Barroso row, Juncker proposes tighter EU ethics rules

The European Commission proposed yesterday (23 November) lengthening the period of time its own former leaders must wait before taking up new jobs, following public uproar over its last president going to work for Goldman Sachs.

Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the EU executive, said in a statement that he and his successors should have to wait three years after stepping down before being able to take up a new post without seeking special Commission approval.

The existing code of conduct stipulates a “cooling off period” of 18 months. Commissioners other than the president – each nominated by an EU member state – would have to wait two years before being completely free to take other work.

The issue came up when Juncker’s predecessor José Manuel Barroso said just after Britain stunned the EU by voting to quit that he was joining US investment bank Goldman Sachs to advise it on the Brexit process. The former Portuguese premier had not needed Commission approval as his term ended 20 months earlier.

“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 standard possible for possible cases of conflict of interest,” Juncker said.

Last month, the Commission’s ethics panel, comprised of former senior figures in EU institutions, cleared Barroso of breaking rules but said he did not show the “considerate judgment” one would expect from someone of his stature.

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