European ombudsman gets tough on Barrosogate

European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly has issued an ultimatum over the fury surrounding Barrosogate: the eminently well-paid passage of former European Commission president José Manuel Barroso from Brussels’ corridors of power to those peopled by the world’s most influential bankers (click here).

As almost every media source covering this story explains, Barroso is on the spot over his choice of employer: Goldman Sachs, the bank “largely blamed in Brussels for its role in the 2008 stock market crash and the eurozone debt crisis” (Euractiv.com).

Although an ad hoc European Union ethics committee concluded five months ago that Barroso had not violated any rules of integrity (click here), O’Reilly is not convinced the matter was properly handled.

She has given the Commission until the end of this month to reply to her bid for an investigation, the onus of which revolves, says euroactiv website, “on how the European Commission dealt with a letter from EU staff concerning Mr Barroso’s position with Goldman Sachs”.

This is in fact a diplomatic way of putting it. The truth is that the commission did not even reply to the EU staff letter, which accompanied a petition signed by 152,000 people contending that Barroso’s choice of new employment “dishonours the European civil service and the European Union as a whole”.

Alberto Alemanno – a professor of EU Law in Paris campaigning on this issue which went on to amass well over 50,000 further signatures – believes the EC should call on Barroso to resign from Goldman Sachs as his top job puts the bank at an unfair advantage.

It also spells “enormous pressure” on all EU officials, Alemanno told journalists, as they will be forced to face their former boss in future negotiations.

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