European Ombudsman concludes Commission revolving door inquiry with call to action

Ombudsman O’Reilly presents findings after studying over 100 decisions pertaining to outgoing senior staff, of which a mere 2 were rejected.

Photo credit: Gunnebo Entrance Control.

On 18 May, the European Ombudsman presented her findings in an own-inquiry about the state of ‘revolving doors’ policy in the Commission. The report was a follow-up to a previous inquiry in which the watchdog found shortcomings. As part of the inquiry, her office analysed over 100 ethics decisions concerning the appropriateness of new employment of outgoing senior staff taken between 2019 and 2021. Of these decisions, only two led to a prohibition to take up the new role due to non-compliance with existing integrity and ethics rules.

The current report sees improvements compared to the previous situation and finds no maladministration. At the same time, the Ombudsman cautions that more works needs to be done. “The movement of regulators into sectors they formerly regulated has become a problematic issue in Brussels”, the Ombudsman stated. In an interview with Politico, she furthermore argued that “[s]ometimes the evaluations they do can be quite sketchy”.

A European Commission spokesman said the institution would carefully analyse the Ombudsman’s report and recommendations and would respond by mid-November.