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Odluka o načinu na koji Europska komisija upravlja fenomenom „rotirajućih vrata” u pogledu svojih članova (OI/1/2021/KR)

Četvrtak | 17 studenoga 2022

Budući da EU stječe sve veće ovlasti u područjima u rasponu od obrane do zdravstvene skrbi, povjerenje javnosti u administraciju od ključne je važnosti. Stoga je svaki dojam da javni službenici nastoje ostvariti privatne interese protivne njihovu radu u javnom sektoru izrazito štetan. Europski ombudsman davno je prepoznao činjenicu da fenomen „rotirajućih vrata” može narušiti povjerenje javnosti ako se njime ne upravlja na primjereni način. Čak i malobrojni slučajevi promjene posla dužnosnika na visokoj razini mogu dovesti do znatnog nepovjerenja javnosti i uzrokovati štetu za ugled. Ovom strateškom istragom obuhvaćeno je stotinu spisa Europske komisije povezanih s fenomenom „rotirajućih vrata” kako bi se utvrdila područja koja je potrebno poboljšati, kao i smjernice za ostatak administracije EU-a u budućnosti.

U okviru istrage Ombudsmana utvrđena su stvarna poboljšanja postignuta od posljednjeg proučavanja tog problema, uključujući smjernice o provedbi strožih ispitivanja svake promjene posla.

Međutim, Komisija je u nekim slučajevima odobrila zahtjeve bivših viših članova osoblja za preuzimanje aktivnosti, unatoč zadršci u pogledu toga hoće li se uvjetima nametnutima za promjenu posla ublažiti potencijalni rizici (kao što su sukobi interesa i pristup znanju ili kontaktima unutar administracije). Ombudsman vjeruje da bi takve promjene posla trebalo odobriti samo ako se aktivnost može podvrgnuti ograničenjima kojima se na odgovarajući način ublažavaju rizici i koja se mogu vjerodostojno pratiti i provoditi.

Ako takva ograničenja i provedba nisu mogući, Komisija bi trebala privremeno zabraniti bivšim članovima osoblja da preuzmu predmetna radna mjesta. U protivnom nastaje rizik od podcjenjivanja štetnih učinaka do kojih će tijekom vremena doći zbog toga što takvi dužnosnici svoje znanje i mreže prenose u povezana područja u privatnom sektoru, a time i do povezane štete za ugled EU-a.

Kada odobrava aktivnost s mjerama za ublažavanje, Komisija bi trebala istražiti cjelokupni raspon dostupnih mjera. Primjerice, Komisija bi mogla uvjetovati svoje odobrenje novog radnog mjesta obvezom člana osoblja da od novog poslodavca ishodi obećanje da će objaviti ograničenja koja je nametnula Komisija na mrežnom mjestu novog poslodavca. Komisija bi u najmanju ruku trebala zatražiti od (bivšeg) člana osoblja da dostavi dokaze o tome da je obavijestio novog poslodavca o nametnutim ograničenjima.

Ombudsman je zbog poteškoća s kojima se Komisija susreće u praćenju usklađenosti ponovno predložio da Komisija na pravodobniji način objavi sve informacije o ocjenjivanju aktivnosti viših članova osoblja nakon napuštanja službe. Time bi se poboljšao nadzor javnosti nad tim odlukama, što je od ključne važnosti za potrebe praćenja.

Decision on how the European Central Bank (ECB) deals with ‘revolving door’ cases (OI/1/2022/KR)

Petak | 28 listopada 2022

The European Ombudsman has long identified ‘revolving doors’, whereby public officials move to the private sector, as a phenomenon that can potentially damage public trust if not managed properly.

This own-initiative inquiry sought to look at how the European Central Bank (ECB) deals with revolving door moves of its staff members.

Given the ECB's role in ensuring price stability and supervising financial and credit institutions, any moves by (former) ECB staff members to private financial or credit institutions, in particular those that fall under the ECB’s supervision, can pose conflict of interest and reputational risks, and cause public disquiet.

The Ombudsman’s inquiry assessed one specific case, which had raised public concerns, and also reviewed 26 cases of requests by staff members to take up occupational activities, either while on unpaid leave or after finishing work with the ECB. In all but one of the files reviewed ECB staff members moved to the private sector, including entities and banks that are under ECB supervision.

The Ombudsman concluded that the ECB should apply a more robust approach in relation to revolving door moves of its (former) middle ranking and senior staff to private sector jobs, in particular in the financial industry.

To address shortcomings that arose in the individual case and more generally in how the ECB tackles this challenge, the Ombudsman set out a series of suggestions on how the ECB can strengthen its rules, including in the context of the ongoing revision of the ECB’s Ethics Framework.

Specifically, the ECB should widen the scope of those staff who are subject to stricter notification and/or cooling-off requirements or opt for a general minimum requirement for all staff akin to the provisions of the EU Staff Regulations related to post-service occupational activities.

The ECB should also lengthen, from six months to one year, the prohibition on former senior ECB staff members lobbying their former colleagues.

The ECB should further improve its monitoring of the compliance of (former) staff members with their ethics obligations and conditions imposed by the ECB, for example by making public the conditions for authorising the post-employment activities of former senior staff members so that alleged breaches can be flagged.

The Ombudsman furthermore suggested that, where the ECB considers that a request from a staff member to take up an occupational activity while on unpaid leave poses risks that cannot be adequately mitigated by restrictions or when restrictions cannot be effectively monitored or enforced, it should not authorise such a request.

 

Decision on how the European Investment Bank (EIB) handled the move of a former Vice-President to an energy utility company that had received EIB loans (1016/2021/KR)

Srijeda | 27 srpnja 2022

The case concerned the decision of the European Investment Bank to approve a request made by a former vice-president and member of its Management Committee (MC) (the ‘former VP’) to become a non-executive board member of a Spanish energy utility company, which received loans from the EIB.

The complainants, two Members of the European Parliament, raised concerns that the move gave rise to the risk of conflicts of interest. The EIB argued that the former VP had not been involved in the negotiation and implementation of the financing agreements between the EIB and the company.

The Ombudsman found that, in approving the move, the EIB did not properly manage the risk of conflicts of interest to which the former VP’s request arguably gave rise. However, given the EIB has, in the meantime, made improvements to the relevant ethics rules to address these matters, the Ombudsman determined that no further inquiries were justified.

Nonetheless, the Ombudsman made suggestions for improvement with a view to strengthening how the EIB assesses ‘revolving door’ moves by members of its MC to the private sector, and how it ensures compliance where its Ethics and Compliance Committee authorises a move but applies conditions on the individual and their activities.