Reputational damage was done to the European Commission when its former president took up a new job
Thursday, 03 November 2016
The European Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, considers a new inquiry.
After leaving the Commission, its former president Jose Manuel Barroso became non-executive chairman of the board of Goldman Sachs International and adviser in relation to the firm’s business with its clients. In a letter to the Commission, he committed himself not to lobby on behalf of Goldman Sachs and respond to the duty of integrity and discretion imposed by the treaty on the functioning of the European Union (TFEU).
The ad-hoc ethical committee of the European Commission issued an opinion on his conduct on 26 October. The committee acknowledges that reputational damage was done both to the Commission and to the wider EU, yet states that, legally, Mr Barroso did not breach the Commission’s Code of Conduct. The committee also said that it is not its role to determine if the Code of Conduct is sufficiently strict.
According to the Ombudsman, the committee appears to have based its inquiry solely on its reading of three documents already in the public domain. There is no evidence, at least in the opinion, of any other relevant records being requested, received, or any interviews with relevant people undertaken.
The Ombudsman will now reflect on the next steps – including a possible inquiry – she will take in relation to this issue. Since her appointment as Ombudsman in 2013, O’Reilly has applied a more pro-active policy than her predecessor and launched a number of own-initiated investigations.