EurActiv - Letters to the Editor

Sir,

Regarding ‘Commission defends ‘farewell bonus’ for top officials‘:

Contrary to what was stated in the above-mentioned article I have no paid job at the European Experience Company – I am co-founder, shareholder and non-executive director without compensation.

My investment in this company does not constitute an occupation. Consequently the Code of Conduct does not apply in this case. Therefore I did not need any permission and I have not asked the Commission for clearance.

I have, however, given the Commission all information to help the Commission to understand the facts.

I would like to stress that the European Experience Company explicitly excludes any lobbying activities, fully respecting the European definition of lobbying of 2008.

The allegation that European Experience Company would be a lobby agency has been made without establishing the facts or contacting the company.

Regards,

Günter Verheugen

Former European Commission vice-president

Co-founder, European Experience Company

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Comments

  1. If it is the case that a former Commissioner can found a company and be exempt from the Code of Conduct then the code should be updated.

    Leaving aside the specific case referred to in EurActiv’s article and in the letter from Mr Verheugen, if someone invests their money in founding a company and becomes “a shareholder and non-executive director” then they stand to benefit materially if that company makes a profit or is sold at a later date.

    Maybe the European Experience Company has nothing to do with lobbying (perhaps it’s a tourism firm or a training institute), but the interpretation of the rules set out by Mr Verheugen suggest that a former Commissioner could set up any kind of company and evade the Code of Conduct provided they do not draw a salary or fees.

    If so, this is a loophole that needs to be closed in the interest of preserving public confidence in the system.

  2. The letter of Mr Verheugen is bizarre. The website of the European Experience Company clearly shows that it is a lobbying outfit. To be paid in dividends rather than a salary may be advantageous.

    I am baffled by this example of newspeak.

  3. touche Gary, love the
    ‘We will not engage in any kind of lobbying activity. We are committed to dialogue, and believe in the right strategy and the strength of the argument.’ on his website. Seems like an afterthought.

    too bad not linked to article on Euractiv, and that the comments are so buggy.

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