What should politicians do when they’ve lost their job? Should they enter the private sector and earn a living outside of politics? Is it unreasonable to expect them not to try and profit from the experience they gained whilst in office? What if they start leveraging their network of personal contacts?
Activists have long-complained about the so-called “revolving door” between business and politics. It’s not unusual for people from industry or the financial sector to join the Commission, or for Commissioners, MEPs, or EU officials to leave office and jump straight into lobbying positions. Obviously, there’s the potential for conflicts of interest if policymakers start making decisions based on the career options they might have after they leave politics. Is it enough to have a “cooling off” period, during which an individual cannot take up employment in a sector they once regulated? Or should the rules go even further?
The prime example, of course, would be Goldman Sachs hiring the former President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso. Upon taking up his new position, Barroso claimed he would not be lobbying on behalf of his new employer. However, it has recently come out that he may, in fact, have been doing exactly that.
Today, we’re continuing our “Ask” series with the European Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly. As European Ombudsman, she deals with issues of maladministration, transparency, whistle blowing, and improper lobbying. She’s tasked with investigating complaints from citizens about poor administration by EU institutions or other EU bodies.
What do our readers think about the ‘revolving door’ between business and politics? We had a comment sent in from Nelson, who thinks EU officials should be banned from working in sectors they once regulated. What would Emily O’Reilly say in response?
Next up, we had a comment from Carlos, arguing that it was “unethical” for former EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso to accept a job at Goldman Sachs (even though Barroso apparently followed all of the relevant ethics rules). Is he right?
Is it wrong for former EU officials to work in sectors they once regulated? And was it unethical for Barroso to accept a position with Goldman Sachs? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!