On 11 October 2019, the European Parliament rejected the nomination of Sylvie Goulard, the French candidate for the post of Commissioner for the Internal Market, Industry, Digital, Defence and Space. The questions raised by the elected representatives related in particular to the ongoing investigation into the fictitious MoDem parliamentary assistants, in which she is involved. But they also related to her advisory activities at the Berggruen Institute between 2013 and 2016, during her term as MP. (Contexte, 11 October 2019; The Financial Times, 10 October 2019)
Following this setback, the French President Emmanuel Macron proposed a new candidate, Thierry Breton, former Minister of the Economy and CEO of the digital services group Atos. In response to conflict of interest concerns, the candidate stated his intention to give up his Atos activities should his appointment be confirmed by the European Parliament. A committee of MEPs will be responsible for considering his application. If he gets through this stage, the French candidate will then be interviewed by MEPs who will consider his merits, in particular regarding the policy he intends to pursue should he be appointed. The same procedure will be applied to the Romanian and Hungarian nominations, whose candidates were also rejected. Ursula von der Leyen’s new Commission is to take up its duties on 1st December. (Capital, 29 October 2019; Euronews, 29 October 2019)
As a follow-up to these events, the Renaissance European Parliamentary Group proposed the establishment of a “Haute Autorité de la transparence de la vie publique” (HATVP, “High Authority for the Transparency of Public Life”) within the European Union. This independent body dedicated to ensuring that all European institutions comply with ethical rules should enhance transparency and citizens’ confidence in Europe. Mrs von der Leyen’s programme already included support for this idea. (La Croix, 21 October 2019)
Also in Europe, around fifty NGOs mobilised to demand that the European Banking Authority (EBA) reconsider its decision to allow its Executive Director, Adam Farkas, to join the banking lobby group AFME. They have issued a joint statement which also calls on the EBA to change its rules on revolving doors, and to be more transparent in its relations with representatives of financial sector interests. (Contexte, 23 October 2019)
A new OECD report denounces cases of fraud and corruption in the use of European investment funds. According to the study’s estimates, over 390 million euros are misappropriated from these funds each year. The guide focuses in particular on measures which could help prevent such misappropriation.