Corporate Europe Observatory

Exposing the power of corporate lobbying in the EU

50,000 in call to close revolving door

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ALTER-EU's Paul De Clerck hands over petition to Commissioner Šefčovič

More than 50,000 people signed an online Avaaz petition, delivered to the EU Commission today, urging it to close the revolving doors for ex-Commissioners who move on to lucrative private sector lobby jobs after they step down [1].

Last month MEPs voted to freeze part of the next year’s EU budget for EU Commissioners unless changes were made to the code of conduct.

Delivered by Brussels-based transparency campaigners ALTER-EU, the petition demands a stronger code of conduct, including a three-year cooling off period preventing moves into lobbying jobs.

The petition, which was set up by the online international campaign group Avaaz, in close cooperation with ALTER-EU, was handed over as the Commission prepared to present its new draft code of conduct to Parliament.

Paul de Clerck, who presented the petition on behalf of ALTER-EU and Avaaz, said: “The forthcoming review of the Code of Conduct for EU Commissioners, announced by President Barroso in December 2009 is long overdue. The Commission must act by introducing a tough new code of conduct, including a three-year cooling off period that stops former Commissioners going straight through the revolving doors into lobbying jobs.”

"European citizens want to slam shut the revolving door for corporate lobbyists in Brussels," said Ricken Patel, Executive Director at Avaaz. "EU politicians are betraying public trust by trading political influence for lucrative lobbying jobs. Parliament's efforts to reform Brussels' political system are meeting with huge popular support."

Olivier Hoedeman of ALTER-EU added: “The current situation, where former Commissioners move straight into lucrative lobbying jobs in the private sector is clearly wrong – and that is why more than 50,000 people from across the European Union have signed this petition demanding change”.

Concerns about the activities of former Commissioners were raised after several former Commissioners moved into corporate lobbying jobs after stepping down – with former enterprise and industry Commissioner Günter Verheugen setting up his own lobby consultancy [2].

The Commission intervened in the case of the former Commissioner for the internal market, Charles McCreevy, who was blocked from his role as a director of a London bank – but the other ex-Commissioners activities remain unchecked [3].

The European Parliament has backed a stronger code, threatening to withhold ex-Commissioners allowances until a new code of conduct with strong rules against conflicts of interests and a cooling off period for ex-Commissioners is introduced.

Contacts:
ALTER-EU, Olivier Hoedeman, 32-474486545, olivier@corporateeurope.org
ALTER-EU, Paul de Clerck, 32-494380959, paul@milieudefensie.nl

Read ALTER-EU recommendations for the review of the Code of Conduct for EU Commissioners at: http://www.alter-eu.org/sites/default/files/documents/alter-eu_recommend...

Notes:

  1. http://www.avaaz.org/en/eu_lobby_rules/?cl=815276420&v=7478
  2. http://euobserver.com/?aid=30701
  3. http://www.corporateeurope.org/lobbycracy/content/2010/10/crucial-lesson...
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