Bahamas Leaks: Another setback  for the EU Commission

Article published on Sept. 23, 2016
Article published on Sept. 23, 2016

A German newspaper has discovered that former EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes was director of an offshore company in the Bahamas while she occupied her EU post. The European Commission plans to investigate the affair, but commentators say will do little to help the Commission's poor reputation.

Unfortunate, but not scandalous - Der Standard, Austria

Der Standard stresses that there has been no evidence of abuse so far: "The European Commission is lurching from one corruption scandal to the next. It's easy to get the impression that the body is gradually losing all credibility when you read the headlines on the most recent 'Bahamas Leaks' scandal involving Neelie Kroes... She failed to declare that from 2000 - long before she took office - to 2009 she was director of a letterbox company: a clear violation of the code of conduct. But as incorrect as this omission was, one should be wary of blowing it up into a major EU scandal. Kroes apparently never actually performed any duties for the Bahamas job, which took the form of a project. And she was deemed a highly competent competition commissioner, standing up to big companies like Microsoft. So far there are no indications of personal wrongdoing in her post as commissioner, or even abuse of office." (23/09/2016)

EU politicians can't do as they please - Der Volkskrant, Netherlands

Like former Commission president Manuel Barroso Neelie Kroes is harming the image of the EU, De Volkskrant complains: "This is another blow to the image of the European Commission. How believable are European attempts to fight tax fraud when a former EU commissioner was active in a tax paradise? Already many Europeans have the feeling that the EU Commission mainly represents the interests of industry and is much less concerned about those of the man on the street. ... EU commissioners must do all they can to demonstrate that they are there to serve the people. They must demonstrate the highest degree of integrity... That means former commissioners must also be subject to certain restrictions. Activities with which they sully the image of the EU after the fact must be avoided at all cost." (23/09/2016)

Stop the revolving door effect - La Vanguardia, Spain

Regardless of Kroes' Bahamas business dealings the switch from politics to business needs to be better regulated, La Vanguardia comments: "The Kroes case touches a sore point regarding the revolving door at the heart of the European Commission, as the ex-commissioner is currently being paid for her services as a consultant for the Bank of America and Uber. The most scandalous case of this type is that of ex-president of the European Commission José Manuel Durão Barroso, who began working for the powerful investment bank Goldman Sachs after concluding his mandate in Brussels... This loss of prestige for the EU institution is another heavy blow for the already ailing European project. The EU Commission needs to do more to ensure that its commissioners adhere to the code of conduct and at the same time create stricter rules to avoid the revolving door effect." (23/09/2016)

Brussels is in dire need of a clean-up - Le Monde, France

Le Monde advises Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to carry out a thorough purge in Brussels: "This affair is devastating for Juncker's Commission. Nevertheless we shouldn't be fooled: the former Luxembourg prime minister and his Commission go after fraud with the zeal of the newly converted. If Juncker is now the target of a smear campaign in Brussels, it's because he's putting up a fight. Against Apple and tax fraud, for European refugee quotas, for a less strict European budget policy. His actions have made him many enemies in Northern and Eastern Europe and among the German conservatives. Juncker is a political president of a political Commission. He must be supported. He must go all the way and take the Kroes case before the courts, at least to shed light on all her activities. Because if he doesn't clean up Brussels, the populists will." (22/09/2016)

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