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Ex-European Commission President becomes Golden Sachs chairman, raising concerns over corporate influence in EU

On July 8 2016 José Manuel Barroso was appointed non-executive chairman of Goldman Sachs International. Ex-commissioners are free to take up a new role 18 months after leaving. Despite accepting the job after 20 months, Mr Barroso has come under fire for ignoring the "spirit of the rules". The situation has led the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) and Transparency International (EU Office) to create a petition asking "not to sell the public interest".

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Article
19 July 2016

Barroso and Goldman Sachs - a dangerous liaison

Author: Corporate Europe Observatory

The news that José Manuel Barroso will become non-executive chairman at Goldman Sachs did not exactly come as a surprise. This is a man who presided over the European Commission for 10 years and, from the beginning, his leadership followed a corporate agenda, with its close links to the biggest businesses and banks in the EU representing a key trait of the current European project. But this one move has catapulted the EU’s revolving door problem onto the political agenda, causing widespread jaw-dropping and reactions of disbelief, making it a symbol of excessive corporate influence at the highest levels of the EU...[T]he problematic revolving door moves of the former members of the Barroso II Commission have been especially controversial since 1 May 2016. This is the date when the ex-commissioners no longer need to seek authorisation from the Commission for proposed new roles, and no longer face a ban on lobbying. In just over two months, we saw former trade commissioner Karel De Gucht join the board of mining giant Arcelor Mittal; former digital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes joined the boards of tech firms Uber and Salesforce...

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Article
16 August 2016

Barroso’s Gold-plated revolving door

Author: Corporate Europe Observatory

Never before has a former European Commission official been criticised as much for their post-EU career as ex-Commission president Barroso since he joined infamous US investment bank Goldman Sachs earlier this summer. Despite its scandalous nature, his move did not come as a complete surprise, given previous revolving door cases involving former EU commissioners. Citizens have every reason to ask if Barroso’s move goes against the public interest...The wording in article 245 about how commissioners should act after leaving office aims at preventing these high-level politicians’ subsequent careers from damaging the reputation of the EU institutions...and that they do not undermine the Commission’s work. The article has been invoked once before, by the Council, when a former commissioner for industry, Martin Bangemann, announced he would take a job with Spanish telecommunications company Telefónica. The Council responded by opening a case against him at the European Court of Justice, arguing he was in breach of article 245 (then article 213), but in the end, it backed down...

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Article
17 August 2016

"Petition: Barroso, don’t sell our public interest to Goldman Sachs"

Author: Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, WeMove.EU

...Public officials should not use their contacts and influence for powerful corporations. Stop this revolving door between the European Commission and big business. Immediately overhaul the rules for where EU commissioners can work once they've left office. Former commissioners should be banned for at least three years from any job that provokes a conflict of interest, including all direct and indirect EU lobbying. Also, we need a transparent and independent ethics committee that can take decisions and apply sanctions if rules are broken. In this spirit Barroso should have his Commission pension entitlements removed...

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