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Ombudsman asks nine questions on handling of Commissioners’ post-mandate jobs

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Press release no. 7/2017

17 July 2017

European Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly, has asked the Commission to reply to nine questions about the role of its Ad Hoc Ethical Committee and how the Commission deals with the post-mandate activities of Commissioners, including its President.

The nine questions were put by the Ombudsman in a letter to Commission President Juncker. The Ethical Committee advises the Commission on post term-of-office activities and has three members.

The Ombudsman welcomed Commission President Juncker’s proposal to strengthen the Commissioner’s Code of Conduct by extending the ‘cooling-off’ period for post-mandate jobs. However, she asks whether the Code is sufficient to guarantee the EU Treaty obligations on current and former Commissioners. 

The inquiry incorporates issues raised in several complaints, received by the Ombudsman in February and March 2017.

Ms. O’Reilly said: “Former European Commissioners are obliged to behave with integrity and discretion regarding posts or benefits they accept after they leave office. The Commission itself has a duty to ensure that this obligation under the EU Treaty is upheld. This inquiry examines how the Commission currently carries out this role, as well as the tools it has in place for doing so. It looks at where the Commission could better align its rules and procedures with the EU Treaty obligations.”

The Ombudsman has also raised the issue of the transparency of opinions from the Ad Hoc Ethical Committee.

The full list of questions can be found in the letter

The Ombudsman investigates complaints about maladministration in the EU institutions, agencies and bodies. Any EU citizen, resident, or an enterprise or association in the EU, can lodge a complaint with the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman's powers include the right to inspect EU documents, call officials to testify, and to open strategic inquiries on her own initiative. For more information: www.ombudsman.europa.eu

For press inquiries: Ms Gundi Gadesmann, Head of Communication, tel.: +32 2 284 26 09, Twitter: @EUombudsman