Talking about active civil society in Romania today…
Several protesters gathered today in Cluj-Napoca at Babes-Bolyai University ready to tone down the somewhat exclusive ceremony in which Government officials, the whole array of ministries in office, Orthodox clergy and local authorities flocked together in what should have been a glorious political PR moment for PM Victor Ponta’s Socialist Cabinet: the Doctor Honoris Causa Award granted to Günther Verheugen, former EU Enlargement Commissioner from 1999 to 2004 and EU Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry from 2004 to 2010.
“Go Frack Yourself” or “No Award for Dirty Lobbyist” were just a few of the key messages that protesters wanted to convey through the media coverage of the ongoing event. Clearly annoyed by the presence of protesters in the award room during his keynote speech, Günther Verheugen stopped short and dismissed protesters allegations as incorrect maintaining that he, in fact, had never lobbyied during his EU mandate. Quite inaccurate if we turn to the EU’s revolving doors allegations on Verheugen.
However, protesters reminded the exclusive audience today that Günther Verheugen is not worthy of such award as he had been deeply imbroiled in lobbying allegations immediately after his last EU Commissioner mandate resumed and that Romania’s enlargement negotiations during his previous mandate were clearly not in favour of local small and medium enterprises. In fact, protesters owned that Romania did not negotiate at all its enlargement during Adrian Nastase’s Cabinet thus affecting national interests for the sake of obscure economic interests.
Just the other day, Euractiv.com web page was mentioning that the European Ombudsman was about to launch a formal investigation into allegations that the European Commission is failing to clamp down on conflicts of interest amongst staff who leave the EU executive to take up jobs as lobbyists and consultants including direct references to Verheugen’s EU lobby consultancy.
Commission has power to ban and impose conditions
“Under current rules, staff leaving the EU executive should be vetted for conflicts of interest before taking up private-sector jobs, and monitored for two years afterwards where such positions could lead to a conflict with the “legitimate interests of the institution”. If such a potential conflict is uncovered then the EU executive has the power to ban the move, or impose conditions on it.
The original complaint set out 10 examples of perceived abuses of the revolving-door system. These included the cases of John Bruton, the former EU ambassador to the United States and Petra Ehrler, the head of cabinet to the former Enterprise and Industry Commissioner, Günther Verheugen.
The document said that Bruton, who went on to become a senior advisor to Brussels-based lobby consultancy Cabinet DN, failed to inform the Commission of his move and later said he did not know he was supposed to.
Ehrler set up an EU lobby consultancy with Verheugen immediately after leaving her post, but only applied for permission to do so four months later, claiming that she had not been made aware of this requirement, according to the complaint”, Euractiv noted.