First, as Senior Adviser to the law-firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP ("Freshfields"), subject to conditions aiming at excluding any conflict of interest. And second, as one of the Independent National Directors of The Times Newspapers Ltd.
The Code of Conduct for Commissioners sets out a cooling-off period of eighteen months after leaving office during which former Commissioners must notify the Commission of any plans to take up a new position. If the envisaged new activity is related to the content of the Commissioner's portfolio, the Commission will seek the opinion of the Ad hoc Ethical Committee. This was indeed the case regarding Lord Hill's envisaged role as Senior Adviser to Freshfields.
Taking into account the opinion by the Ad hoc Ethical Committee, the Commission decided that Lord Hill's appointment as Senior Adviser to Freshfields is compatible with Article 245(2) of the Treaty. However, in order to exclude any conflict of interest, that clearance is given under the following three conditions. During at least the eighteen months cooling-off period, Lord Hill (1) refrains from providing advice to Freshfields' financial services clients, (2) refrains from providing advice to Freshfields itself or to its non-financial services clients on issues related to the financial services sector, and (3) refrains from any lobbying activity on behalf of Freshfields or one of its clients with the Commission and its services on matters linked to his former portfolio.
On the other hand, Lord Hill's envisaged position as one of six Independent National Directors of The Times Newspapers is not linked with his former Commission portfolio and does not present a risk of incompatibility either with his former function as Member of the Commission or with the interests of the Institution. The Commission could, therefore, approve Lord Hill's envisaged activity.
President Juncker recently proposed to extend the cooling-off period from eighteen months to two years, and even to three years for the President of the Commission.
According to Article 245(2) of the TFEU, the Members of the Commission give a solemn undertaking that, both during and after their term of office, they will respect the obligations arising therefrom and, in particular, their duty to behave with integrity and discretion as regards the acceptance, after they have ceased to hold office, of certain appointments or benefits.
In addition, the Code of Conduct for Commissioners establishes a specific procedure for the assessment of planned occupations which former Commissioners intend to take up during the eighteen months after they have ceased to hold office. The Commission shall examine the nature of the planned occupation and, if the activity is related to the content of the Commissioner's portfolio, it shall seek the opinion of the Ad hoc Ethical Committee.
As announced in his State of the Union Address 2016, President Jean-Claude Juncker has proposed in November 2016 to tighten the Code of Conduct for Commissioners. He proposed to extend the cooling-off period from currently eighteen months to two years for the Members of the Commission and to three years for the President of the Commission.
For More Information
- Code of Conduct for Commissioners (C(2011)2904 of 20/04/2011)
- State of the Union Address 2016 (14/11/2016)
- President Juncker proposes to tighten the Code of Conduct for Commissioners (IP/16/3929 of 23/11/2016)