[Ip-health] Better control of EU revolving door needed (Euro Meds Agency)

Riaz K Tayob riaz.tayob at gmail.com
Tue Jul 31 07:02:52 PDT 2012


  Better control of EU revolving door needed


July 25, 2012 - 14:45
Lobbycracy <http://www.corporateeurope.org/lobbycracy>
Revolving Doors <http://www.corporateeurope.org/revolving-doors>

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The revolving door 
<http://www.corporateeurope.org/projects/revolvingdoorwatch> has been in 
the headlines again in recent weeks with the speedy departure of a top 
official from the EU's medicines agency to a prominent law firm. Such 
moves, known as going through the revolving door, can allow the private 
sector to 'capture' or unduly influence the work of the public sector 
and it is vital that all public authorities including the EU agencies 
and the European Commission take this threat seriously. This example and 
other recent revolving door cases again raise questions as to how well 
the EU institutions implement the current rules, and whether the 
Commission will seize the initiative to tighten up on the loopholes 
which undermine them.

Vincenzo Salvatore 
<http://www.corporateeurope.org/revolvingdoorwatch/case/vincenzo-salvatore> 
was the Head of Legal Service at the European Medicines Agency until 
June 2012 when he announced that he would be moving to the law firm 
Sidley Austin to work in their European life sciences regulatory 
practice. Sidley Austin said that Professor Salvatore would be providing 
"clients with strategic legal counseling on the EU's legal process 
regulating all aspects of the pharmaceutical industry..." 
<http://www.sidley.com/vincenzo-salvatore/>, a role for which his time 
at EMA would undoubtedly have been useful preparation.

Such a senior official as Salvatore is likely to have been aware of the 
revolving door rules in place at the agency and the need for "officials 
intending to engage in an occupational activity ... [to] inform their 
institution thereof". After all, Salvatore was Head of Legal Service 
when the former director of that agency, Thomas Lönngren, himself went 
through the revolving door. In that case, EMA only belatedly applied 
restrictions 
<http://www.corporateeurope.org/revolvingdoorwatch/case/Thomas-L%C3%B6nngren> 
on Dr Lönngren's new consultancy work.

Professor Salvatore was quoted in the Financial Times on 5 July 2012 
<http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/c597b412-c6b4-11e1-95ea-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1zpLj12Db> 
as saying: "There is nothing to stop people working in their field of 
expertise". Sidley Austin has told Corporate Europe Observatory: "Sidley 
and Professor Salvatore have followed every procedure required regarding 
his departure from the EMA. Since we are awaiting the results as the EMA 
works through its process, it is not appropriate to comment further at 
this time."

Yet EMA appears to have been caught on the hop by this move. Guido Rasi, 
the new Executive Director of the European Medicines Agency, told the 
Financial Times: "I have not approved any post-EMA activities for 
Vincenzo Salvatore. Before he left the Agency ... he indicated he was 
intending to work as an independent lawyer and as consultant for some 
law firms, but without providing any specific details." Rasi went on to 
say that he has set up a review which will probe possible conflicts of 
interest arising from this case. At the time of writing, the review had 
yet to report, but as Salvatore has already left EMA, it is not clear 
what authority the agency has over an ex-employee anyway.

*Loopholes*

An interesting element of the Salvatore case is that he was a contract 
agent (rather than a permanent official) at EMA and it is clear that 
there are loopholes in the revolving door rules for contract agents.

Contract agents are only covered by the EU's revolving door rules if 
they are considered to have had access to "sensitive information" during 
their time at the EU institution. Of course, as Head of EMA's Legal 
Service it is hard to see how Professor Salvatore would not have had 
access to sensitive information during his time at EMA, and so would not 
be exempt, but this loophole is regularly applied to other EU officials.

Take the case of Darren Ennis 
<http://www.corporateeurope.org/revolvingdoorwatch/case/darren-ennis>. 
When he left the European External Action Service (EEAS) in summer 2011 
for a new job as director at MHP Communications in Brussels, he had, 
according to the EEAS: "not had access to sensitive information during 
his time with the European External Action Service and was consequently 
not deemed subject to the obligation of requesting authorisation to take 
up an offer from another employer in accordance with Article 16 of the 
Staff Regulations".

Ennis had only been working for the newly-formed EEAS for a month when 
he resigned, and so arguably, may not have come into contact with 
"sensitive information" during this time. However, this is not the whole 
story.

According to his biography on the MHP website, Ennis was appointed as 
Catherine Ashton's media and strategic communications advisor not long 
after her own appointment in December 2009 as EU High Representative of 
Foreign Affairs and Security. In this role, the website says he had "a 
key role in developing her narrative for EU foreign policy and helping 
deliver her political messages to world leaders and media around the 
globe". It seems hard to imagine that "sensitive information" was not 
involved in this work. Yet, Ennis's move to MHP was unregulated and 
unscrutinised for possible conflicts of interest.

This goes too for the move by Harald Boerekamp 
<http://www.corporateeurope.org/revolvingdoorwatch/case/harald-boerekamp> from 
DG ECHO (which handles humanitarian aid and civil protection matters) to 
Interel European Affairs, one of Brussels largest lobby firms, in May 
2012. According to DG ECHO, Boerekamp did not need authorisation to join 
Interel as he had not had access to sensitive information, even though 
he had worked at that DG for nearly two years; and had previously been 
with the Commission's secretariat general for another year.

Overall, CEO considers that the definition of "sensitive information" 
needs clarifying and that the revolving door rules should be applied to 
all contract agents with a policy-making role or any significant working 
history at an EU institution. CEO also wants to see a cooling-off period 
of two years for all EU staff entering lobby or lobby advisory jobs, to 
avoid the risk of conflicts of interest.

*Incoming officials*

There are other weaknesses in the revolving door rules and the way in 
which they are implemented. Just as important as the outgoing revolving 
door -- perhaps even more so - is the incoming revolving door, when 
staff join an EU institution from a job which might provoke a risk of a 
conflict of interests. The rules governing the incoming revolving door 
require staff to declare any possible conflicts of interest that they 
might have related to their present functions as an official.

Marcus Lippold 
<http://www.corporateeurope.org/revolvingdoorwatch/case/marcus-lippold> 
worked for ExxonMobil from 1992 until he joined the Commission to work 
in a series of oil and energy-related jobs. Originally he was a senior 
energy economist at DG-TREN (transport and energy), working on oil and 
coal-related legislation, including European oil upstream and downstream 
sectors and related refinery products and product markets. In 2009, he 
led a study assessing the competitive aspects of the oil product markets 
in the EU 27. His current role is as international relations officer 
working at DG Energy.

You might assume that an official with a history of working for the oil 
industry would be scrutinised by the Commission for conflicts of 
interest if he was undertaking work related to the energy industry. Yet 
this does not appear to have happened. Based on evidence gathered by CEO 
via access to documents 
<http://www.asktheeu.org/en/request/staff_regulations_article_11a_2#incoming-394>, 
it seems that the Commission has not undertaken any assessment of 
possible conflicts of interest considering Lippold's previous career at 
ExxonMobil. CEO considers there is a risk of conflicts of interest 
arising in his current role which the Commission has not recognised, 
explored or taken any action to prevent.

CEO believes that the current rules are weak in this area and instead of 
relying on officials to step forward to raise potential conflicts of 
interest, the institutions themselves should be proactive in 
scrutinising all incoming staff, including whenever they move to a new 
job internally.

*Flawed*

These cases appear to indicate flaws with the EU's current revolving 
door rules -- and it is time for a revamp. All EU bodies should make 
sure that they have robust rules in place which ensure that all incoming 
and outgoing staff are scrutinised for potential conflicts of interest 
and that any necessary restrictions, recusals or cooling-off periods are 
applied to protect the public interest.

As CEO has said elsewhere on this blog 
<http://blog.brusselssunshine.eu/2012/06/meps-call-for-curbs-on-revolving-door_6086.html>, 
it is time that the revolving door was taken more seriously and that the 
rules became fit for purpose.

/Further information on these and other revolving door cases can be 
found at CEO's web page RevolvingDoorWatch 
<http://www.corporateeurope.org/projects/revolvingdoorwatch>/

http://www.corporateeurope.org/blog/better-control-eu-revolving-door-needed



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