Usually, retirement payouts begin when you actually retire and leave the job market. But that is not the case with José Manuel Barroso, the former president of the European Union’s executive arm. He receives his pension, even though he has held at well-paid banking job since this summer.
The European Commission has told the Danish newspaper Politiken that Barroso asked for early retirement pension and that he is now receiving it. Since July, Barroso has been working as chairman of Goldman Sachs International.
According to EU rules, Mr. Barroso is entitled to a monthly payout of 7,000 euros, and he opted for that solution after he reached the required age of 60 years this spring.
»This case is a wakeup call for tougher integrity rules for commissioners«, says the prominent German MEP Sven Giegold, economic policy coordinator for the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament.
»It may not be illegal, but is it certainly morally unacceptable«, said Jeppe Kofod, a member of the European Parliament for the Danish Social Democrats. Mr. Kofod and other MEP’s said that they were appalled to learn that Mr. Barroso is already receiving retirement payouts.
This case is a wakeup call for tougher integrity rules for commissioners
Sven Giegold, MEP, Germany
The new information about Mr. Barroso’s pension comes at at time when many in Brussels are already criticizing the former European Commission president for his decision to sell his knowledge and network of contacts to Goldman Sachs, one of the world’s largest investment banks. But until now, it has not been disclosed that José Manuel Barroso is receiving EU pension at the same time as Goldman Sachs is paying him a sizeable salary.
Neither Mr. Barroso, nor Goldman Sachs International in London were available for a comment.
Earlier, European Commission staff launched a petition calling for the commission to strip Mr. Barroso of his pension. The petition has now been signed by 150,000 people.
Emily O’Reilly, the European Ombudsman, has filed a complaint about the case with Mr. Barroso’s successor, Jean-Claude Juncker. Mr. Juncker has now asked the commission’s ethical committee to look into the matter.
»The good thing about the Barroso case is that it is so high-profile and that it has triggered so much criticism that the commission will now be forced to act«, said Mrs. O’Reilly.
She suggested stripping former members of the commission of their benefits if they ignore the Treaty on European Union’s demand that they act with »integrity and discretion« when choosing a new job after they have ceased to hold office.