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Ombudsman asks ECB to apply stricter rules to moves by staff to financial sector

The European Ombudsman has asked the European Central Bank (EBC) to strengthen its approach to dealing with staff moving to the private sector, and particularly the financial sector.

As part of her overall work on ‘revolving doors’, the Ombudsman reviewed 26 cases related to requests by staff to have authorisation for employment either while on unpaid leave or after finishing work at the ECB. Of those files, all but one concerned the private sector, including entities and banks that are under ECB supervision.

The own-initiative inquiry also looked into how the ECB handled a specific case of an ECB economist taking a post at a bank while on unpaid leave.

The Ombudsman concluded that the ECB should take a more robust approach to dealing with revolving doors concerning its middle- and senior-ranking staff.

As the ECB is currently revising its ethics framework, the Ombudsman asked it to consider changing the rules so that more staff are subject to stricter cooling-off requirements, and increasing the ban on former senior ECB staff lobbing their former colleagues to one year.

The ECB should also consider making public the conditions attached to authorising new employment, and making the authorisation conditional on the new employer making the conditions public.

The Ombudsman has increasingly focused on revolving doors in recent years, including with a broad inquiry into how the Commission handles the matter, as well as others inquiries into the European Banking Authority, the European Defence Agency and the European Investment Bank.