Former finance Commissioner Jonathan Hill joins UBS Brexit advisor

Written by Martin Banks on 1 June 2018 in News

Former European Commissioner Jonathan Hill has been branded “a serial offender” in the Commission’s ‘revolving door’ problem.

Jonathan Hill | Photo credit: Natalie Hill

This is a reference to those senior officials who, soon after leaving their Commission posts, move to often lucrative jobs in the private sector.

Transparency campaigners say this puts them at risk of a potential conflict of interest.

Several former European Commissioners have come under the spotlight in recent years after stepping down from their jobs with the executive.


The most notable one is José Manuel Barroso who, soon after he left his post as Commission President, joined Goldman Sachs in what later became known as the ‘Barrosogate scandal’.

Hill, the former Commissioner for financial stability, financial services and capital markets union, has now reportedly taken a new role as Brexit advisor at major Swiss investment bank UBS.

The British peer was not immediately available for comment on Thursday but Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), a Brussels-based campaign group, said the Hill case is “the latest illustration of the commission’s serious revolving door problem.”

CEO’s transparency and ethics campaigner Margarida Silva said, “Less than two years after leaving the institution, this former high-ranking EU official has taken up employment in the very industry he previously regulated.”

She added, “UBS stands to benefit from Hill’s insider know-how, influence, and access to relevant actors in the EU administration and the political level of the Commission. All of these are privileges which are exclusive to former Commissioners, making strict revolving door rules so vital.

“To make matters worse, Hill will be providing advice on Brexit - one of the biggest crises facing the EU. As the Barrosogate scandal has shown, few things shake public confidence in the

European Union as much as ex-officials cashing in on their status as former members of the EU elite. In the context of Brexit, this makes Hill’s move an extremely cynical one.”

She went on, “Hill himself is a serial offender when it comes to revolving door mover, having joined the Commission after a career in corporate lobbying and public office in the UK. Since leaving the Commission, he has accepted at least five different roles with big business.

“Hill’s career has included several moves between UK corporate lobby industry and public office, rendering him an unsuitable choice for the Commission’s top financial and banking policy post.

When MEPs quizzed him about his past roles as part of the confirmation process to become a Commissioner in 2014, he refused to answer any questions about his former lobby clients.

“Hill took up the new role at UBS after the end of his 18-month notification period during which the Code of Conduct required him to notify the Commission of any proposed new roles. New rules for Commissioners were introduced in February which extend the notification period for ex-Commissioners to 24 months, but without retrospective application. 

“Yet, as the European Ombudsman has pointed out, a Commissioner’s ‘duty to act with integrity and discretion are not time limited.’”

No one from the Commission was immediately available to comment on the allegations. 

A UBS spokesperson confirmed that Hill had joined them with the title of ‘senior adviser, corporate client solutions.’

A statement from the bank said, “Jonathan Hill has been both a European Commissioner and a member of the British Cabinet. That means he is one of the very few people who can interpret politics in both the EU and the UK at a moment when businesses around the world are keen to know what recent developments might mean for them.  

“His experience in both Brussels and the UK means he is able to speak with authority on the challenges and opportunities for business arising from recent political and economic developments in Europe. That in turn means we will be able to offer richer advice in relation to Brexit and the wider political and economic environment to our CCS clients.”

It concluded, “We are really pleased to have someone with Lord Hill’s record and standing in Europe to join the firm.”


About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter for the Parliament Magazine

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