'Time to rethink EU as Manuel Barroso heads to Goldman Sachs'

European Commission President (EPP) Jean-Claude Juncker (L) is congratulated by former European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. © Gerard julien
Manuel Barroso will be seen as a lobbyist and is going to have a big problem wielding influence on behalf of the Goldman Sachs, economist and author Keith Boyfield told RT.

The former EU president is to face an ethics inquiry over taking a lucrative role as adviser at US investment bank Goldman Sachs.

His old friend and successor, Jean-Claude Juncker is far from happy at with his choice of job.

RT: Why is Juncker so angry about Barroso's new job? Has he really broken EU regulations?

Keith Boyfield: I think he has to be seen to be cleaning up the EU’s act. You could argue that both the EU and Goldman Sachs have something in common: they are both organizations that have got problems. Goldman Sachs has been struggling in terms of profitability and their share price only got up to almost $170. And the EU is losing members. So, you could argue that both of them have something in common.

RT: Critics say Barroso’s new position at Goldman Sachs could bolster anti-European sentiment. What do they mean?

KB: Goldman Sachs has a long history of hiring people like Peter Sutherland, who was an EU commissioner. He was chairman of Goldman Sachs International in London. But I think that this model of having highly placed lobbyists with all that experience of working for the European Commission is probably changing now. Organizations like Goldman Sachs have really got to think ahead on how people perceive them. They are seen as an embodiment of capitalism in many parts of Europe and that is not a very popular thing to be.

RT: Juncker also says that Barroso will not be received in EU institutions as a former president but as an “interest representative.” How much of a reprimand is that?

KB: They have also threatened him with his pension as he might not get as much pension as before. But it strikes me that Goldman Sachs has got enough money still in the kitty to pay that out. But he will be seen as a lobbyist and I think that he is going to have a big problem in wielding influence on behalf of Goldman Sachs.

RT: Juncker is not alone in condemning Barroso; a petition has been signed by around 140,000 people calling for the former official to have his pension stopped. Is the issue really that serious?

KB: I think there is an element of playing to the gallery. But the European Commission is really in deep trouble and so is Juncker. There are number of member states who would really like to get rid of him. And he is maybe a past generation. They’ve got to rethink what the EU is for, particularly now that the UK is leaving.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.