Brussels, 4 August 2016
SUBJECT: Appointment of Mr Barroso as advisor and non-executive chairman in the international arm of the international investment bank Goldman Sachs
By our letter of 12 July, we had drawn your attention to the appointment of Mr Barroso as advisor and non-executive chairman of international operations to the international investment bank Goldman Sachs, asking for the College to take position under Article 245 TFEU.
That same day, we also sent a letter to Mr Barroso asking him to reconsider his decision for morality and ethical reasons.
Similarly, it is worthless mentioning again the outraged reactions of the European press and the very clear position of the European Ombudsman, which we welcome.
Nevertheless, beyond the reactions and the external pressures, it is essential for our institution to reassure staff and citizens as to its ability to react, and to demonstrate that it is able to fully take charge of this file.
In this regard, we welcome the position on the recruitment of Mr Barroso, that you adopted during the France 2 TV-show “Les 4 Vérités” broadcasted on 25 July 2016: when G. Bornstein asked you “Does it shock you?“, your answer was: “I wouldn’t have done that“, despite the fact that you declared that “Mr Barroso has complied with all procedures laid down.“(reference to Article 1(2) of the code of conduct for Commissioners).
President of the French Republic Francois Hollande also strongly condemned the decision of Mr Barroso, calling it “morally unacceptable” in his annual interview of National Day on 14 July.
Meanwhile, an online petition “Not in our name!“, addressed to the presidents of the three Institutions, was launched by a group of colleagues and has already collected almost 4,000 signatures to date.
On this occasion, colleagues denounced this new example of “irresponsible revolving-door practices, which are highly damaging to the EU institutions and, even if not illegal, morally reprehensible”.
In this context, they ask “Not to merely ascertain that Mr Barroso left office more than 18 months ago” but “Examine in detail and in all transparency whether Mr Barroso has respected his duties of integrity and discretion towards the European Union” and, where relevant, “Take (…) appropriately strong and exemplary measures against José Manuel Barroso, such as the suspension of his pension allowance (…) and (…) of all possible honorary titles linked to the European Institutions”. In addition, they ask to “reinforce the ethical rules to fight such revolving-door practices that apply to former Members of the Commission, in proportion to the damage that their future behaviour can bring to the European civil service and the European Union (…)”.
R & D strongly supports this petition, that has already received a positive response from the press, as clear evidence of the ethical sensitivity of our institutions’ staff.
This initiative actually meets the request of Vice President Kristalina Georgieva, who asked the staff to express their mind and to also actively engage on political issues that go beyond the working environment.
However, inviting colleagues to speak is not enough. It is essential to give appropriate effect to the views expressed, by taking into consideration the voice of the staff.
Given the above, we reiterate all the requests put forward in our letter of 12 July, not only the ones regarding measures to be adopted as to this unacceptable revolving doors case, but also the ones about the urgency to adapt the rules in this area, that have proven absolutely inadequate in front of the more than regrettable lack of sensitivity and restraint shown by Mr Barroso.
Copy : College of commissioners, Commission staff