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Brussels, 20 April 2011

The Commission revises its Code of Conduct for Commissioners

At its weekly meeting today the Commission decided to revise its Code of Conduct for Commissioners. The changes made reinforce the ethical framework by strengthening and clarifying several of the previous provisions.

In his Political Guidelines for the Next Commission, delivered in September 2009, President Barroso announced his intention to revise the Code of Conduct for Commissioners, which he hoped would become a “document of reference that will inspire other EU institutions”.

The current Code of Conduct is already one of the most rigorous applied to holders of public office. The new revision of the Code of Conduct follows several studies carried out recently, by the European Commission and the European Parliament, and by the OECD (Post-Public Employment – Good Practices for Preventing Conflict of Interest, 2010). These studies provided further useful recommendations to enhance the completeness and effectiveness of the Commission’s Code of Conduct, and are reflected in the following changes:

  • Clearer rules on political activities, including Commissioners' participation in electoral campaigns;

  • Stronger rules on activities after leaving the College, including guiding criteria for the Ad hoc Ethical Committee’s assessment, and the extension of the notification obligation of post-office activities from 12 to 18 months;

  • Annual revision of the declarations of interests;

  • Introduction of a clear procedure to deal with any potential risk of conflict of interest during the mandate;

  • Clearer rules on gifts and hospitality;

  • Exclusion of spouses, partners and direct family members from the Cabinets of the members of the Commission;

  • Reinforcement of the remit of the Ad hoc Ethical Committee.

The Code of Conduct for Commissioners fully respects Article 17 of the Treaty on the European Union and Article 245 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European. It gives an operational dimension to the obligations of independence and integrity imposed upon the members of the Commission, defined in general terms in these provisions.

In line with the Framework Agreement on relations between the European Parliament and the Commission, the European Parliament was invited to comment on the proposed changes. The Code of Conduct adopted today takes account of the views expressed by the European Parliament.

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