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CONFLICT OF INTEREST : REVOLVING DOORS: OMBUDSMAN INVESTIGATES.

O'Reilly points out flaws in the Commission's handling of this phenomenon

For over a year, the services of European Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly have been investigating how the European Commission handles conflicts of interest. O'Reilly would like to clarify certain aspects of the practice known as 'revolving doors', when civil servants go from the public to the private sector, and vice versa, or even prepare themselves for recruitment in the private sector.

According to the ombudsman, it is more than a question of ethics. Apart from putting the institutions' image at risk, there are legal issues which also apply, such as whether companies feel that commercial secrets have been revealed when a commissioner or civil servant leaves.

An institution would never tolerate the theft of commercially sensitive files or intrusion on a PC. If the issue of revolving doors were seen from this perspective, perhaps more effort would be made to ensure that rules were applied, O'Reilly pointed out to the members of the Committee on Budgetary Control (CONT), on 17 March.

She has already touched on the flaws. If sanctions involve the loss of pension rights, how can they be applied for contract agents, who often do not have such rights? Furthermore, the Commission interprets the two-year period within which former staff members must keep it informed about their activities as the sole period during which it can prohibit such activities. However, the ombudsman disagrees and believes that there should be no time limits regarding the status. "An official shall, after leaving the service, continue to be bound by the duty to behave with integrity and discretion," she says. Or why does the ad hoc ethics committee only assess commissioners' situations? She wants an answer by the end of the month.

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Publication:European Report
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:4E
Date:Mar 20, 2014
Words:291
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