European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly has launched yet another “revolving door” investigation into the links between former EU senior officials and big business.
Irishwoman is investigating the appointment of former European Investment Bank (EIB) Vice-President Emma Navarro to the board of Spanish energy giant Iberdrola, a company that has received more than $ 1 billion euros in loans from the EIB.
Announcing the inquiry yesterday, Ms O’Reilly said EU institutions “need to take a strong approach” to former senior executives moving into the private sector.
“Political lives ended in failure, now they end in lobbying,” she said. Independent Irish in an interview earlier this week.
“Are people starting to go into politics or public service for post-service lobbying jobs?” It fits into the career life cycle of politicians.
The high-profile EIB outings have raised concerns among MEPs.
Ms Navarro took up her post as non-executive director of Iberdrola last December, three months after leaving the bank.
The EIB’s own code of conduct recommends a cooling off period of 12 months.
She left around the same time as her fellow vice-president Andrew McDowell, a former adviser to Enda Kenny, who now works in a consulting firm. Strategy &, which is part of PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and had been considered for the most senior position at the Central Bank of Ireland.
He has made a strict commitment not to lobby the EIB during his first 12 months in office.
Luxembourg-based PwC EU Services, a division of PwC, has won several management consulting contracts with the EIB over the years.
“We didn’t know that, in fact, otherwise we would have treated him on an equal footing,” said German MEP Sven Giegold, who drew O’Reilly’s attention to the Navarro affair.
“There are a lot of problems at the EIB when it comes to managing staff and conflicts of interest. The list is really long and this is just one example of a long list of problems. “
A recent report by Dutch MEP Bas Eickhout expresses “his concern at reports that several former vice-presidents have taken up jobs in entities associated with the EIB without respecting a cooling-off period”.
MEPs also want to prevent EIB vice-presidents from overseeing loans to their home countries. The EIB invested a record € 1.1 billion in Ireland in 2019 and over € 1 billion again last year.