The EU ombudsman has criticised the Commission over the appointment in 2007 of the former president of the EU Parliament Pat Cox as an adviser to an EU commissioner.
The ombudsman found that the Commission “failed to adequately examine potential conflicts of interest” when Cox was employed as an adviser to the former commissioner Meglena Kuneva from 2007 to 2009.
The finding follows a complaint in February 2010 by Corporate Europe Observatory, which raised concerns about a possible conflict with Cox’s lobbying work for Microsoft, Michelin and Pfizer and the lobbying consultancy APCO as well as his own lobbying firm, European Integration Solutions.
The ombudsman concluded that the evidence did not support the Commission’s statement that its conclusion that there was no conflict of interest was “the result of a thorough examination of the merits of the case.” According to the ombudsman, the Commission’s general approach “does not show due respect to the procedural safeguards which the Commission itself has put in place in response to public concerns about transparency in relation to special advisers.”
Several of the Commission’s present special advisers also give cause for questions. The ombudsman will wait up to 31 January 2012 for the Commission’s response to his recommendations and then will decide whether to launch his own initiative inquiry.