Sven Giegold
Member of the European Parliament – Greens/EFA Group

Speaker of the German Green Delegation

Revolving door rules ineffective: Only 0.62% of changes from EU-institutions to lobby groups rejected

Dear friends, dear interested,

A new report by the non-governmental organization Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) sheds light on the Brussels revolving door job changes and provides shocking insights. Out of 366 applications for transfers of EU officials from the EU Commission to the private sector and 597 applications for employment in the private sector during a leave of absence in 2019, the EU Commission has prohibited only 6 transfers or 0.62% in total. Even though many changes may be unproblematic, the few rejections show that the EU rules to prevent conflicts of interest are hardly implemented. Many problematic lobby changes where sensitive knowledge has migrated from EU institutions to lobby organizations are publicly known.

For example, top Commission official Aura Salla, who worked in the Commission on cyber-security and misinformation and became chief lobbyist of Facebook in May 2020, three months after she had left the EU Commission. Or Reinald Krüger, formerly responsible for the telecommunications market at the Commission, whose leave has been approved since 2018 in order to work as a lobbyist for Vodafone. What is particularly frightening is that even in such explosive cases with concrete conflicts of interest, the Commission has not exhausted the full potential of the staff regulations. Instead of merely imposing restrictions that are difficult to enforce anyway, the rules also allow for a rejection of certain transfers due to serious conflicts of interest for a period of 2 years.

These new findings carry a heavy weight, as important insider knowledge flows into the private sector. At the same time, democracy is undermined and trust in public institutions destroyed. With so much insider information in lobby organizations, citizens rightly wonder whose interests are being heard in EU institutions.

For a better application of the revolving door rules we finally need an independent EU ethics body. This is what we Greens and some NGOs have been demanding for a long time. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has promised such an ethics authority. In the European Parliament, my Green colleague Daniel Freund is working as a rapporteur in the Constitutional Committee (AFCO) on an initiative report on an EU ethics body. The draft report will be presented in December or January. Soon after the European Parliament has defined its position for the ethics authority, the EU Commission should submit a legislative proposal on this basis in order to finally put a stop to the unspeakable sell-out of public interest by revolving door changes.

With green European greetings,

Sven Giegold

Link to the new CEO report: https://corporateeurope.org/en/2020/10/facebook-friends-lobby-consultants