The revolving door mechanism at the European Commission desperately needs to be addressed

That is amongst the important conclusions of the recent study of the European Ombudsman of the European Commission staff:

Can former European Commission officials lobby their former workplace, former colleagues, when they have moved into a new job? The European Ombudsman concludes as much, calling on the European Commission to enforce a 1 year lobby and advocacy ban for their former employees. If necessary, the new activity should be forbidden by the European Commission.

The European Commission’s current practice falls far short of what the European Ombudsman views as a best practice. Amongst others, the European Commission is lacking by:

5. (i) not publishing information online as it becomes available, and (ii) not publishing information on all cases it assesses with a view to possibly imposing the one-year lobbying and advocacy ban on former senior staff members undermines effective public scrutiny of those staff’s revolving door moves. The Ombudsman thus calls on the Commission to take action to follow-up on the best practices she has identified and shared also with 15 other EU institutions, bodies, offices and agencies.

6. The Ombudsman also trusts that the Commission will, in its role of Joint Transparency Register Secretariat, adopt an ambitious approach in facilitating publication of information on former senior staff members’ lobbying and advocacy bans directly on the Transparency Register entries of the new employers or self-own companies, both in relation to its own staff and that of other EU institutions, bodies, offices, and agencies.

There are around 400 outgoing revolving door moves per year (people moving from working for the European Commission to a lobbyist), 700 cases of leave on personal grounds (during which people can exercise outside occupational activity), and 2000 incoming revolving door moves (whereby people return to work for the European Commission after having exercised an outside activity. This makes it very hard for oversight bodies to be sure that no undue influencing of policy is happening via this construction.


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