Brussels, 12 July 2016
Open letter to President Barroso
We are concerned to learn of your appointment as advisor and non-executive chairman of the activities of the US investment bank Goldman Sachs.
All the press across the European Union recalled the role of the bank especially in the context of the 2007 financial crisis and the Greek crisis and stressed the disastrous consequences for Commission and more broadly European Institutions image of your decision, in the particularly delicate and Europhobic political context of Brexit.
The staff of the institution that you chaired for ten years is thus a victim of your decision that takes only into account your own private interests, while the common decency should not have lead you to accept such a function.
However, we cannot stop there and ask you to give it up, notably under Article 245 TFEU which provides that:
“The Members of the Commission may not, during their term of office, engage in any other occupation, whether gainful or not. When entering upon their duties they shall give a solemn undertaking that, both during and after their term of office, they will respect the obligations arising therefrom and in particular their duty to behave with integrity and discretion as regards the acceptance, after they have ceased to hold office, of certain appointments or benefits. In the event of any breach of these obligations, the Court of Justice may, on application by the Council acting by a simple majority or the Commission, rule that the Member concerned be, according to the circumstances, either compulsorily retired in accordance with Article 247 or deprived of his right to a pension or other benefits in its stead.”
And even if you have respected the eighteen-months rule which appears in the Code of Conduct for Commissioners, in the context of post-employment activities, Point 1.2 of the Code provides that “duty to behave with integrity and discretion pursuant to Article 245 of the Treaty (TFEU) even beyond the period of 18 months after ceasing to hold office” shall remain in effect.
In this case, the compatibility of the acceptance of this function within Goldman Sachs with the duties of integrity and discretion pursuant this Article clearly arises.
It is also in this sense that ruled today the European Ombudsman that has moreover requested to revise ethical rules in the light of recent events. But beyond a legal debate, it is a moral question first.
Given the political and moral responsibility of the members, former members and a fortiori former President of the Commission, we ask you to reconsider your decision.