EU Commission approves Barroso's Goldman Sachs post

The European Commission's ad-hoc ethical committee has ruled that former Commission President José Manuel Barroso has not broken any rules by taking up a top job at Goldman Sachs.

José Manuel Barroso | Photo credit: Press Association

By Julie Levy-Abegnoli

31 Oct 2016

Former European Commission President José Manuel Barroso has been cleared of any wrongdoing by the institution's ad-hoc ethical committee for accepting a high level post at Goldman Sachs. He caused controversy over the summer when he announced he was taking up a job as an adviser and non-executive Chair of the board of directors of the US investment bank, which has been widely blamed for Greece's economic crisis.

In a statement, the committee said, "On the basis of the information provided, there are not sufficient grounds to establish a violation of the duty of integrity and discretion."

It did acknowledge, however, that Barroso had "not shown the considerate judgement one may expect from someone having held the high office he occupied for so many years."


The committee pointed out that since Barroso respected the 18-month cooling off period when former Commissioners must seek clearance for new jobs to avoid conflicts of interest, and that he insisted he would not be carrying out any lobbying on behalf on Goldman Sachs. Therefore, said the committee, Barroso did not break any rules.

Barroso, who served as Commission chief from 2004 to 2014, faced a barrage of criticism upon announcing his new post, including from his successor, Jean-Claude Juncker, and European Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly.

A petition calling for his generous EU pension to be suspended - something MEPs had also requested - gathered over 60,000 signatures.

The ethical committee's opinion has caused widespread anger.

Aidan O'Sullivan, Emily O'Reilly's head of cabinet, tweeted that the decision was "very disapppointing."

Meanwhile, the French Greens delegation in the European Parliament said that if no ethics rules had been breached, this was a sign they should be changed.

Transparency campaigner Erik Wesselius had this to say:


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