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Durão Barroso stripped of Brussels’ red carpet privileges

If Goldman Sachs thought they had a “man at the top” when they hired former EC boss Durão Barroso as their new non-executive president, they may have to think again.

With scrutiny deepening into the controversial appointment, Barroso has suddenly lost what are called his “red-carpet privileges”.

The Financial Times explains that, “ordinarily”, the former commission president would have commanded VIP treatment when dealing with EU leaders and institutions.

But the furore his departure from European politics straight into the arms of the banking sector means instead that he has become the first EC president to lose this special cachet.

In brutal terms, “he will not be received in Brussels as a former president of the commission”, says the FT.

Barroso’s successor Jean-Claude Juncker has “told staff to treat Mr Barroso in the same way as any other lobbyist liaising with Brussels”.

In other words, in the same way as any other “interest representative”.

It is news that will delight the 139,299 people who have so far signed a petition for “strong exemplary measures” to be taken against what they considered to be the worst example of “revolving door” practices that “dishonour the European Civil Service and the European Union as a whole”.

Meantime, Barroso is being asked to “provide clarifications on his new responsibilities and the terms of reference of his contract”, while Europe’s ethics watchdog Emily O’Reilly has agreed that his new appointment has “shaken public trust”.

As has been time and again explained, outrage centres on the fact that Goldman Sachs were seen as having played a less than noble part in the global economic crisis.

They were also responsible for arranging “complex financial instruments that helped Greece massage its public finances” while Barroso was at the head of the European Commission, explains the FT.

Thus suspicions now centre on just how close Barroso’s relationship may have been with his new employers before they invited him into the fold.

Emily O’Reilly has stressed that “it is not enough to say no rules were broken” when Barroso took up his new appointment, just 18 months after leaving the European Commission – and an ad hoc ethics committee will now be looking into whether the one-time PSD prime minister is “complying with his legal duty to behave with integrity and discretion when taking appointments or benefits after leaving office”.

There is a lot at stake in terms of public trust, Ms O’Reilly has said.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com