Friday 8 July 2016

Barroso joins Goldman Sachs as Brexit advisor: a choice of bad taste

The FT reports that former Commission President Barroso (2004-2014) joins Goldman Sachs to help them deal with Brexit, which Goldman Sachs confirms (via Contexte).

The Code of Conduct for EU Commissioners only has a cooling-off period of 18 months. If you count from 1 November 2014, the start of the current Commission, until today, Barroso does this move about 21 months into his post-Commission life.

In a sense, Barroso has done everything right in line with the self-set code of conduct of the Commission, and at this point he doesn't even have to inform the Commission anymore about any job moves he is doing.

But had the cooling off period been two years, not 18 months, then his move would already be questionable, especially since the Commission he presided over could have extended the period of 18 months (but didn't do that).

Maybe I would not feel so strange about it wouldn't it be for his move to Goldman Sachs, one of the crucial (negative) players in the EU crisis, who will now be profiting from someone with probably still well-functioning ties to the European Commission (a number of former Commissioners such as Malmström for Trade are still in office), the current European Council President (who sat on the European Council as a regular member while Barroso represented the Commission in this body) and to a number of European leaders who were already in power while he held one of the highest EU positions.

Let's say it's perfectly legal and in line with the self-set ethical standards of the Commission, but it's definitely bad taste to use 10 years of inside information for the benefit of a single bank in a situation of crisis such as Brexit definitely will be.