R&D represents thousands of colleagues who serve the European project with commitment and dedication and who, despite everything, have not lost hope to see our institution and its personnel regain its credibility with citizens.
We are thus pleased to welcome the initial positions taken by the new College and President Juncker, which are going in the right direction: the determination shown to respond to the future unjustified criticism towards our institution and our staff is a good example. (“Eye for eye, tooth for tooth”. Congratulations Mr President!).
The Barroso Commission denied the existence of yet undeniable problems. It refused to take into consideration justified criticisms it was receiving, forgetting thereby that accountability is a crucial condition an essential premise in any democratic organisation.
In particular, it often happened that the inadequacy of procedures designed to ensure transparency in the decision-making process and to prevent conflicts of interest as to lobbyists, as well as the non-respect of ethical and professional rules in the context of activities lead by former high officials in favour of such entities, clearly appeared and tarnished the credibility and image of our institution.
R&D notes with satisfaction that the first decisions of the Juncker Commission are very encouraging.
Transparency of contacts with lobbyists and in choices of experts
To ensure greater transparency, which lies at the heart of political orientations of President Juncker, all members of the Commission, members of their cabinets and Directors-General shall held public shall disclose, as of December 1, 2014, all contacts with lobbyists, interest groups and individuals registered in the directory of transparency.
Any items raised over these contacts will be specified in the statements. The publications would be done after the meetings, within a period which is still under discussion.
In this same spirit, in order to avoid conflicts of interest, it is also planned to publish more detailed information about the experts members of working groups.
This is exactly what R&D has always been asking for, to counter all malicious speculation and reassure European citizens!
As First Vice President Timmermans confirmed, it is the “political responsibility” of each Commissioner to ensure that everything takes place in compliance with the rules. He confirmed as well that the Commission also relies on the vigilance of the European Ombudsman and the press.
This constitutes a complete and gratifying U-turn in relation to the positive role of administrative and democratic control authorities!
The transparency register
R&D is also pleased about President Juncker planning to bring the Parliament and the EU Council to reopen the Transparency Register file. This is a public file which list all lobbyists working in Brussels around institutions, and discloses the level of resources invested in these activities. However companies or NGOs enroll on a voluntary basis only.
President Juncker now wants to make it a compulsory measure, which had been hitherto fought from within by some former commissioners or deputies. To set the example, as of 1 December, Commission members will no longer be allowed to meet with lobbyists who did not register. This is another way to force reluctant lobbyists into register.
Congratulations Mr President! So many steps in the right direction … but it must not stop there: now we have to tackle the “revolving doors” scandal and the cabinets’s management!
“Revolving doors”: R&D shares the damning conclusion of the European Ombudsman!
In this regard, a bloody report of the European Ombudsman has highlighted “a poor systemic administration” and vividly criticized the Commission and its administration (“Revolving doors”: Ombudsman will step up supervision of senior EU officials. )
In his report, the European Ombudsman actually stigmatizes, word for word, what R&D has always denounced!
It is a fact that, even though these problems were indisputable, the Commission and DG HR always refused to take into account the suggestions of R&D and staff representation. Repeatedly, the Members of the COPAR appointed by the Central Staff Committee struggled to safeguard the Institution’s reputation, endangered by the authorizations for activities granted while any potential conflict of interest was far from being discarded.
As the European Ombudsman recognized, the most sensitive cases always applied to senior management colleagues who, right after retirement, were authorized to undertake activities which were often directly related to those they performed during the last years of their careers. These gateways were quick to bring the institution rapidly discredited and challenged its Independence and the objectivity of its decision-making processes.
R&D strongly supports the Ombudsman’s recommendations in particular with regard to the on-line publication of decisions adopted to guarantee transparency and to ensure democratic control by citizens and their representatives.
The “parachuting” of the cabinets’ members
Ending the “Revolving doors” scandal is not enough though!
The shameful management of the end of the mandate of the Barroso Commission and the real rain of airdrops that disrupted services and questioned the credibility of the appointment procedures of our institution are well established (Barroso Commission has exceeded all limits!).
Even worse was the manipulation of expectations of our post 2004 colleagues, to the benefit of cabinet members throughout the last internal competitions. This manipulation is one of the darkest pages of the Barroso administration.
One should not wait until the end of the College’s term of office to restart these practices.
It’s now or never that clear and transparent rules must be established for the cabinet staff management.
Mr President, R&D asks you to take into account the conclusions and proposals of the Ombudsman’s report on the “revolving doors” and to establish clear and transparent rules regarding the cabinet staff management at the end of the College’s term of office.
In this process, R&D will not fail to make its constructive and enthusiastic contribution.