EU Institutionsfree opinion

Barroso at Golman Sachs, symbol of a drift. MEPs ask for referral to the Court

José-Manuel Barroso at the Hampton Court summit in 2005. He was younger... (Credit: Council of the EU)
José-Manuel Barroso at the Hampton Court summit in 2005. He was younger... (Credit: Council of the EU)

(B2) The announcement of the recruitment of Manuel Barroso by Goldman Sachs (Read: José-Manuel Barroso buys a diamond slipper at the expense of Europe) caused trouble. After hesitating, the President of the current Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, decided to ask the person concerned " clarifications on his new responsibilities and the terms of his contract ". He also asked " the opinion of the ad hoc ethics committee and informed European Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly last Friday (9 September).

For Pervenche Berès, the president of the French delegation of the Socialists in the European Parliament, and a few other MEPs, mainly from the left, we must go further. In addition to being a " violation of the Treaty on the functioning of the EU, this recasing of the one who was for ten years the President of the European Commission undermines the confidence of Europeans in the institutions. She therefore launched a campaign (in a column first published in Liberation) to convince her colleagues to sign a written declaration requesting referral to the European Court of Justice.

The symbol of a drift 

This appointment, the day after Brexit, symbolizes an unacceptable drift: that of the conflict of interest of political leaders. With the recruitment of Mr. Barroso, the stated objective of Goldman Sachs is to circumvent the loss of their “European passport” from London. 

That the man who had the function of directing the institution in charge of defending the general European interest should become the employee of an American investment bank which plays around with European shortcomings to increase its profits is deeply shocking. Mr Barroso's case constitutes a clear and manifest violation of Article 245 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and of the oath taken by the latter on 3 May 2010. 

Criticized within the Commission itself 

The officials of the European Commission were not mistaken: they themselves immediately launched a petition to denounce such slipping, which has already received 140 signatures. The mediator, for her part, also expressed her reservations about this recruitment, and Mr. Juncker replied.

Appeal to the European Court of Justice

The day after the return to Parliament, we are launching an initiative in the European Parliament, which goes in the same direction in order to put an end to these practices which undermine the confidence of Europeans and shock us: we call on our colleagues to join us in signing the written declaration that we deposit.

This is why we ask the Council and the Commission to refer this situation to the Court of Justice, in accordance with Article 245 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It is up to it, in law, to decide on the case of Mr Barroso and to determine the consequences which flow from it as regards his rights to the pension and the other benefits in lieu thereof.

Revise the code of conduct

In addition, we are asking for a revision of the code of conduct to bring to one legislature – five years – the anti-revolving door rules, which, to date, only run for 18 months following the end of the mandate of the commissioners. 

Rules that meet the expectations of Europeans

Of course, the European commissioners have the right to have a career after their mandate; however, strict rules must prevent abuse and traceability of contacts between them and their former collaborators is essential. Respect for democracy demands that these actions be put to an end. It is time for our rules to live up to the expectations of Europeans in the European Commission and in Parliament. Restoring the confidence of Europeans in the Union also means preventing those who owe it so much from harming it. 

Pervenche Berès (PS), Hugues Bayet (PS, Belgium), Karima Delli (Greens), Fabio De Masi (Die Linke, Germany), Gérard Deprez (MR, Belgium), Sven Giegold (Die Grünen, Germany), Sylvie Guillaume ( PS), Eva Joly (Greens), Emmanuel Maurel (PS), Julie Ward (Labour, UK).

B2 Writing

© B2 - Bruxelles2 is a French online media that focuses on political Europe (powers, defence, foreign policy, internal security). It follows and analyzes developments in European policy, unvarnished and without concessions. Approved by the CPPAP. Member of SPIIL. Please quote "B2" or "Bruxelles2" in case of recovery