Corporate Europe Observatory

Exposing the power of corporate lobbying in the EU


RevolvingDoorWatch cases

David Harley

Nationality: Britain

Former employer: European Parliament (since 1975), Deputy Secretary-General and Director-General of the Presidency

Date: April, 2010

New employer: Burson-Marsteller Brussels, Senior Adviser and now co-Chairman

Institutional reaction:

“Parliament's administration confirmed on 15 February 2010 that the position would not be prejudicial to the legimate interest of the institution ... [Harley] undertook, on his own initiative, that he would not have any contact with parliament staff or Members on behalf of BM or its clients for a period of six months following his retirement”

Comment from CEO:

"CEO considers that a two-year cooling off period or ban on accepting a post such as this should have been imposed upon Mr Harley to prevent the risk of potential conflicts of interest from arising. This is notwithstanding Mr Harley's self-imposed 6 month ban on contacting former colleagues which we consider would not have prevented BM or its corporate clients from benefitting from Mr Harley's advice on lobbying strategies. Additionally, six months is a very short period of time."

Other info:

Harley “started his career in the EP in 1975 as an Adviser in the office of the Secretary-General and then held a succession of increasingly senior roles...” (Source: European Agenda) 

Mr Harley's original application for authorisation said that he would work 'as a part time independent consultant in communications and public affairs, based in London. In this capacity, I intend to provide consultancy services for four days per month to Burson-Marsteller plc'. Less than one year later, Mr Harley was appointed co-chairman of Burson-Marsteller Brussels; Mr Harley has told the Parliamentary authorities that his new duties are "purely internal". The Parliamentary authorities have told CEO that they do not consider that this additional role requires a new authorisation. 

Mr Harley apparently decided not to have any contact with parliament staff or MEPs on behalf of BM or its clients for a period of six months following his retirement.

CEO submitted a complaint to the Parliamentary authorities about their handling of this case in January 2012. A reply was received in May 2012 but this provided no further information or insight.


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