EU furious over Jose Manuel Barroso’s new job at Goldman Sachs

EU politicians are demanding former European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso is sanctioned for taking a job with Goldman Sachs. They say he has failed to “behave with integrity and discretion.”

He is criticized for joining the Wall Street bank that helped set off the 2008 financial crisis. Goldman has also been blamed for assisting Athens in hiding its financial situation in order to enter the eurozone in 2000.

Barroso has been appointed as a chairman and senior adviser to the international arm of Goldman Sachs, and will move to London and instruct the bank on UK negotiations to leave the European Union.

“Of course I know well the EU, I also know relatively well the UK environment,” the FT quoted Barroso as saying, adding “if my advice can be helpful in this circumstance I’m ready to contribute, of course.”

Barroso was Portugal’s prime minister from 2002 to 2004, and later served as president of the European Commission from 2004 to 2014.

“These shameful revolving doors between politics and business foster doubts on the integrity of democratic politics,” European Parliament member Sven Giegold was cited by Politico.eu.  “Barroso’s quick change-over damages the reputation of the European Commission,” he added.

The EU affairs correspondent Jean Quatremer wrote for the French daily Liberation that “Barroso has given Europe the finger.”

Some EU politicians say the current Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker was not told in advance and “probably was not happy,” though the two men called each other after Barroso’s appointment was announced.

Online newspaper EUobserver cited Juncker as saying on Monday that under EU rules Barroso was not obliged to notify the EU executive before the decision to accept the bank's chairmanship and advisory jobs.

Meanwhile, the French Socialist delegation to the European Parliament has called for sanctions against Barroso by cutting his pension from the Commission when he reaches 65 years of age.

The penalty is possible under the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, which says European Commissioners must “respect the obligations arising there from 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.”

Currently there is a “cooling-off” period of 18 months imposed by the EU after officials leave their posts. Marisa Matias from the Confederal Group of the European United Left has called for an end to the impunity enjoyed by former EU officials.

“This appointment is completely shameful. Barroso waited for the end of his 18 months to immediately collect his reward for the good job he did for Goldman Sachs and the financial markets, by devastating the lives of millions of European citizens with austerity in Portugal, Greece, Ireland, Spain, Italy, among others.”

“This shows what interests European leaders follow, and a good example of why the European Union got to this appalling state,” she added.