European Ombudsman defends good public administration; condemns EU’s revolving doors

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(19 May 2022) Public administration jobs and including those in the European Commission are not just any job. They serve the public good. This is the important conclusion of an inquiry into revolving doors of the European Ombudsman, Emily O’ Reilly. A revolving door is when someone in an influential public administration job moves to the private sector to use the person’s networks in the public administration, the knowledge of dossiers and procedures to assist (business) clients to lobby for their benefits and profits. Very often European Commissioners do this after their job in the Commission. They make a lot of money themselves and the privileged access they had is exploited against the public interest.

EPSU’s General Secretary:  "We welcome the findings of the Ombudsman. We expect the EU institutions and EU high level civil servants to give the example of integrity and have confidence they take decisions in the public interest, not in the interests of the wealthy few and corporate interests with deep pockets which can buy their way in."  

The Ombudsman says: "The European Commission risks undermining the integrity of the EU administration without a more robust approach to the movement of staff to the private sector…" This comes after a broad inquiry into ‘revolving doors’. The Ombudsman makes several recommendations how this can be regulated including forbidding jobs temporarily if they pose risks that cannot be offset by restrictions or if restrictions cannot credibly be monitored and enforced.

The Ombudsman finds this so important as There is a tendency to underestimate the corrosive effects of officials bringing their knowledge and networks to related areas in the private sector. If the Commission does not act now this will “allow the embedding of a culture that may erode public confidence in the integrity and expertise of the EU institutions. Permanent jobs in the EU administration imply a commitment to the public good over the long term. They should not be seen as a stepping stone to related jobs in the private sector

See here for the inquiry findings.

Ongoing inquiries relate to the European Investment Bank and the European Central Bank. Past inquiries related to the European Banking Authority and the European Defence Agency

The Ombudsman further published the Annual Report and revealed a new logo representing the office’s mission: accountability, transparency, and trust.

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