Too few checks are being made on ex-Commission officials who move into jobs in the lobby industry, resulting in abuses of power, according to a new report published today (Thursday 24 November) by the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) .
The report urges greater transparency and tough new rules to stop public employees moving through the “revolving door” into private sector lobby roles, often without any cooling-off period or restrictions being imposed.
ALTER-EU says this allows lobby firms to gain insider know-how and access to key contacts on behalf of their business clients or employers, providing easy routes to influence policy making. And the report warns that some officials may be taking decisions which benefit potential future employers at the expense of the public interest, or even abusing their position to secure lucrative deals in the private sector while still in office.
ALTER-EU campaigner Vicky Cann remarked: “The revolving door linking the Commission to Brussels’ lobby industry reveals a political culture which allows far too many officials to use their valuable expertise and contacts to aid the private sector. The current staff rules are supposed to prevent abuses of power, but they are weak, and poorly implemented. As a result, Brussels’ lobby firms are bulging with ex-Commission officials offering insider know-how. It is time the European Commission blocked this revolving door.”
ALTER-EU’s report outlines the cases of 15 officials who have moved into influential lobbying roles, without adequate checks being put in place.
• Derek Taylor - a senior energy adviser working for DG Energy who moved to lobby consultancy Burson-Marsteller to work as an energy adviser within weeks of retiring from the Commission and without receiving authorisation.
• Mogens Peter Carl – the former Director-General at DG Trade and then DG Environment who moved to lobby consultancy Kreab Gavin Andersen just six months after leaving the Commission.
• Mårten Westrup – an insider at DG Enterprise who moved to BusinessEurope to advise on climate change issues, before returning to the Commission, to work at DG Energy.
• Bruno Dethomas – the former Head of the European Commission’s Eastern Partnership Taskforce who retired in December 2010, joining lobby consultancy G+ Europe in March 2011. G+ Europe’s clients include Gazprom Export and the Russian Federation.
ALTER-EU is calling on Commissioner Maroš Šefčovič to introduce new rules as part of his existing review of staff regulations, including:
• A mandatory cooling-off period of at least two years for all EU institution staff members entering lobbying or lobby advisory jobs, or any other job which could provoke a conflict of interest with their work as an EU official;
• Greater transparency regarding job moves, with the EU institutions publishing all revolving door cases online;
• EU institutions to scrutinise all staff joining their employment for potential conflicts of interest under revolving door rules.
Vicky Cann, Corporate Europe Observatory
tel: + 32 2893 0930
mobile: + 32 489 596 478
 Block the revolving door: why we need to stop EU officials becoming lobbyists here.