EU Commission's finance DG accused of having 'sizeable revolving door'

Written by Martin Banks on 19 April 2018 in News

It has been revealed that four of the five former officials who headed the European Commission directorate responsible for financial regulation between 2008 and 2017 have gone on to work for financial industry companies they once oversaw or lobby firms which represent these firms.

European Commission | Photo credit: Fotolia

Campaigners say this amounts to a possible serious conflict of interest, warning that the “risk of undue sympathy for the industry’s vested interests is high.”

They say the revelations suggest that the EU’s main financial legislator “still has a sizeable revolving door.”

Each of the senior officials worked at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for financial stability, financial services and capital markets union (DG FISMA).


A new study, which comes nearly 10 years after the start of the financial crisis, alleges that one of the three heads of unit who worked at DG FISMA between 2008 and 2017 and since left the Commission went on to work for the financial industry.

Six and seven of a total of respectively 27 heads of unit and 22 deputy heads of unit at DG FISMA during this period had worked for the financial industry in the past, it is reported.

Two of the three European Commissioners responsible for finance between 2008 and 2017 went on to work for financial interests following the end of their mandate.

The revelations come just a few weeks after the European ombudsman Emily O’Reilly issued a scathing critique of the Commission’s handling of so-called ‘revolving door’ cases of former Commissioners, like that of former Commission President José Manuel Barroso who went on to work for Goldman Sachs.

Brussels-based campaign group Corporate Europe Observatory said that the study it co-authored “further highlights the bias in yet another EU department’s working culture, which could benefit the financial industry actors it is meant to regulate.”

Study co-author Yiorgos Vassalos said of the findings, “The revolving-door culture at DG FISMA means many of the department’s top officials may not have the necessary distance from and neutrality towards the entities they are supposed to regulate.

“When promoting public-interest regulation could impinge on personal career prospects in the sector, the risk of undue sympathy for the industry’s vested interests is high. At the same time, DG FISMA’s frequent recruitment of staff from banking industry actors may well contribute to a pro-corporate bias at the EU department.”

Corporate Europe Observatory’s ethics campaigner Margarida Silva said, “The Commission rules for mitigating potential conflicts of interest have failed to stem the tide of recent revolving-door cases and must urgently be strengthened.”

Silva added, “Despite the devil-may-care moves of ex-commissioners and even ex-presidents of the Commission into industry jobs, the Commission still refuses to recognise its revolving-door problem as a systemic cultural issue.”

“The notion that a move from a regulatory body into the regulated industry is a perfectly logical career progression must be shattered once and for all.”

No one at the Commission was immediately available for comment.


About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter for the Parliament Magazine

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