[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
Revolving Doors <http://www.corporateeurope.org/revolving-doors>
by email <http://www.corporateeurope.org/printmail/1083>PDF version
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.
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
on Dr Lönngren's new consultancy work.
Professor Salvatore was quoted in the Financial Times on 5 July 2012
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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