On Friday 19 June, the High Authority met with two units from the European Commission to discuss the management of ethical issues concerning European Commissioners and Commission personnel. This virtual meeting came as a follow-up to the European Commission’s visit to Paris in January, and is part of a long-term cooperation strategy in the fields of ethics and prevention of conflicts of interests.
Christian Linder, Head of the “Ethics, Good Administration, Relations with the European Ombudsman” unit of the European Commission’s Secretariat-General, presented the process for checking and publishing declarations of interests of European Commissioners, regulating post-service employment and preventing conflicts of interest.
Dominique Enjolras, Head of the “HR – Ethics, Good Administration and Relations with the Ombudsman” unit explained the role of the Commission’s Human resources and security service. She explained how her services deal with ethical requests from the various Commission directorates-general, examine the declarations of conflicts of interest of Commission staff members, and put measures in place to prevent conflicts of interests, in particular when Commission staff carry out outside or post-service activities.
The High Authority was represented by Alice Bossière, Deputy Secretary General, Sébastien Ellie, Legal and Ethics Director, Marie Lintzer, Head of International Partnerships and Alexis Bernigaud, International Partnerships Officer. They notably highlighted the role of ethics officers in France, which provide deontological expertise in administrations, and debated the definition of a conflict of interests. They also stressed the importance of adjusting the measures taken to prevent conflicts of interest to the ethical risks identified in each situation, using a proportional approach.
The discussion was very instructive for both parties, and the High Authority was delighted to explore the practical challenges facing French and European authorities. The two institutions renewed their willingness to take this conversation further during dedicated bilateral meetings in the coming months.