Monday, 30 March 2009

EU Commission staff advises others on how to lobby

If I am reading this event announcement correctly, then an advisor to the European Commission on Security of supply and energy markets who has recommended the use of nuclear energy in the past is advising other and future lobbyists how to best influence EU policy making.

I am amazed.

The event description:
Attending the "Lobbying in the EU: How to represent and defend your interests in BrusselsTM" workshop is the most effective Brussels based event for developing your understanding of the workings of the EU. With a new Commission and Parliament due after the summer, now is the time to brush up on your EU knowledge and lobbying skills!
Congratulation, EU Commission, you let your own people teach others how you can be easily influenced!

What about asking Mr Barroso to tell lobbyists how they can make him leave office after the EP elections?


Flasher T said...

Hm. Is this really that surprising? The only odd thing is that the guy is still in office, otherwise, that's where retired bureaucrats go...

Erik Wesselius said...

Julien, thanks for bringing this to the attention of a wider audience! Flasher T may be right that this is nothing special, but as you point out: European Commission staff explaining to commercial lobbyists how to best influence the European Commission should NOT be considered normal practice.

Unfortunately, it is most probably not in conflict with the EC Staff Regulations or the Code of Good Administrative Behaviour. And as far as I can see, the rules even allow Mr. Taylor to receive a gift for his presentation.

The Staff Regulations and the Code of Good Administrative Behaviour are unclear in many repects, for example as to what kind of gifts or favours are acceptable and when accepting a gift or favour affects the judgment or impartiality of an official and creates a conflict of interest.

Last year, Friends of the Earth Europe has asked the European Ombudsman to make a clear statement on the
need for guidelines prohibiting EU officials to accept any gifts or favours from third parties if these
third parties have an interest in the issues that these officials are involved in or responsible

Another issue that is not properly dealt with in the current rules for EC staff is the revolving doors: former EC staffers becoming lobbyists.

In a contribution to the stakeholder consultation on a Code of Conduct for lobbyists, last year, the Civil Society Contact Group proposed that:

"The Code should specify that lobbyists may not employ former officials of the EU, in particular Commission officials, unless the EU institutions have formally and transparently assessed any possible conflict of interest that may arise from any particular employment of its former officials, and have decided that the proposed employment does not cause conflict of interest For high ranking EU officials, the Code should state explicit cooling-off periods (ranging from 6 months to 5 years) during which the person may not work as an interest representative at all."

Julien Frisch said...

@ Flasher

In the event description, he is listed as an advisor to DG TREN, so he still seems to be employed.

In fact, I was aware that retired Commission and other EU employees often change to lobbyism, but I am still surprised that there is nothing preventing somebody working in a quite sensitive area to teach on how lobby most effectively.

@ Erik

Those rules need to be changed, no doubt about it!