Ombudsman calls for strengthened ethics rules for ex-Commissioners

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Series Details EO/16/08 (12.07.16)
Publication Date 12/07/2016
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The European Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, called on the European Commission in July 2016 to strengthen the rules that governed work that Commission Presidents and former Commissioners undertake after leaving office. She noted the controversy over the appointment of ex-Commission President José Manuel Barroso to chairman of Goldman Sachs International, and the most recent relevant case dealt with by her office.

In September 2016 the European Ombudsman welcomed Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s decision to refer the issue of Mr Barroso’s appointment as adviser and non-executive chairman at Goldman Sachs to the European Commission’s Ad Hoc Ethical Committee.

In reply to a letter from Ms O'Reilly, Mr Juncker pledged to ask for details of Mr Barroso’s responsibilities as well as the terms of reference of his contract which will then be assessed by the Ad Hoc Ethical Committee.

Meanwhile, Mr Barroso dismissed claims his new job broke ethics rules as ‘baseless’ and ‘discriminatory’.

The European Parliament held a related debate on the business ties of past and present European Commissioners and the recent 'Bahamas' leaks in plenary on the 4 October 2016 with European Commissioner Pierre Moscovici. They called for the code of conduct for European Commissioners be tightened up, in order to prevent conflicts of interest for Commission members, and to help restore the faith of European citizens in political institutions.

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Related Links
ESO: Background information: José Manuel Barroso to become chairman of Goldman Sachs International
European Commission: European Commission civil service: A modern administration: Ethics and conduct
European Commission: Communication ... On the publication of information concerning occupational activities after leaving the service ... First annual report for 2015
European Commission: Transparency: Ethics for Commissioners
Blog: LSE EuroppBlog, 20.07.16: How to nudge Barroso out of the revolving door
Blog: LSE EuroppBlog, 20.07.16: Barroso and Goldman Sachs: Has the EU regulatory state yielded to big business interests?
European Ombudsman: Press Release, No.10, 2016 (06.09.16): Ombudsman calls on President Juncker to clarify position on Barroso appointment
EurActiv, 06.09.16: EU Ombudsman tells Juncker to clarify his stance on Barroso’s new job
BBC News, 06.09.16: EU ombudsman questions Barroso's Brexit role at Goldman Sachs
EUObserver, 06.09.16: EU watchdog seeks details on Barroso's bank job
Euronews, 06.09.16: EU watchdog demands clarification over Barroso's Goldman Sachs job
The Guardian, 06.09.16: [Opinion] Barroso's new job puts Brussels elite in a tight spot
EUObserver, 07.09.16: [Opinion] Barroso’s bank job: A failure of integrity
European Ombudsman: Press Release, No.11, 2016: Ombudsman welcomes further scrutiny of Barroso appointment
European Commission: Transparency: Ethics for Commissioners: The Ad hoc Ethical Committee
EUObserver, 12.09.16: EU launches probe into Barroso ethics
Politico, 12.09.16: Juncker orders probe into Barroso’s Goldman Sachs job
Deutsche Welle, 12.09.16: EU to investigate Barroso over Goldman Sachs job
The Guardian, 13.09.16: Barroso hits back at Brussels over inquiry into Goldman Sachs role
BBC News, 12.09.16: EU seeks Barroso 'clarifications' on role at Goldman Sachs
The Wall Street Journal, 13.09.16: Barroso Hits Back at Juncker Over Goldman Job, Suggesting Discrimination
Politico, 13.09.16: Barroso hits back at Juncker over Goldman role
EurActiv, 14.09.16: Barroso riles against ‘discriminatory’ EU in Goldman Sachs row
Euro|Topics: Debates, July-September 2016: Barroso off to Goldman Sachs
The Guardian, 15.09.16: Juncker questions Barroso's decision to join Goldman Sachs
EUObserver, 26.09.16: Barroso had deeper ties to Goldman Sachs
European Parliament: Press Release, 04.10.16: MEPs call for Commissioners’ code of conduct to be tightened up
EurActiv, 06.10.16: Parliament calls for tougher action to stop Commission’s revolving doors

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