Michel Petite talks about him again

(BRUXELLES2 – exclusive) The former legal director of the Commission, left slipping away after retirement at the law and consulting firm, but still a member of the Commission's ethics committee, is getting talked about again.

In a missive addressed to several MEPs, Michel Petite thus defends with strong legal arguments the fact of adjusting the system of the Horizon 2020 program (research) for the defense industry. His arguments are convincing. The man remained a fine jurist. And, basically, one might be tempted to agree with him. It is indeed absurd to deal on the same level with industries that have security imperatives and others.

But… there is a catch!

Officially, Michel Petite is a member of the European Commission's ethics committee responsible for deciding on the future of commissioners (and senior civil servants) after their duties. At the beginning of the year, the spokesperson also stressed that Michel Petite was well " lawyer and not lobbyist “, adding” What is essential is to have no conflict of interest " (read : An ethical issue...). Last May, the spokesperson for the Commission persisted, when proof had been provided that Mr Petite had intervened in the Dalli case as counsel for the tobacco company, Swedish Match, considering that it has nothing to do with his duties (read: Ethics Committee: the Commission does not renounce Michel Petite).

This letter to MEPs proves that there is more than a small problem. Not only, Mr. Petite does not intervene as a lawyer but as a lobbyist, on an ongoing European legislative file. And this no longer seems an isolated case – to point out a problem of legality (at least that is the version) – but to defend a position by trying to influence legislation. The red line seems to be crossed...


Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).