Barroso accuses EU of discrimination over ethics probe: FT

Tue Sep 13, 2016 1:29pm EDT
 
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By Alastair Macdonald

STRASBOURG (Reuters) - Former European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has accused his successor Jean-Claude Juncker of "discriminatory" behavior for opening an ethics probe into his taking a job with U.S. bank Goldman Sachs.

In a letter to Juncker reported by the Financial Times on Tuesday, the former Portuguese prime minister who stepped down as the EU's chief executive two years ago, said the inquiry launched after a public outcry at his appointment was "inconsistent" with treatment of other former commissioners.

Goldman appointed Barroso as non-executive chairman of its international arm in London two weeks after Britons voted for Brexit in June and he said he would advise it on issues arising from the negotiations for Britain to leave the European Union.

Juncker initially made clear his disapproval but said the Commission had no power to intervene. But after the EU Ombudsman insisted last week that there should be an inquiry, Juncker asked the Commission's ethics panel to look into whether Barroso breached a requirement to act with integrity.

According to excerpts of the letter published by the paper, Barroso wrote: "It has been claimed that the mere fact of working with Goldman Sachs raises questions of integrity.

"Whilst I respect that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, the rules are clear and they must be respected. These claims are baseless and wholly unmerited. They are discriminatory against me and against Goldman Sachs.

He said he was concerned that the issue had been prejudged and added: "Not only are these actions discriminatory but they appear to be inconsistent with decisions taken in respect of other former members of the Commission."

Barroso could not immediately be reached for comment.   Continued...

 
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker speaks during a press conference ahead of G20 Summit in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, September 4, 2016. China Daily/via REUTERS