Barroso off to Goldman Sachs

The former president of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso has accused his successor Jean-Claude Juncker of being "discriminatory" after the latter set up an ethics committee to examine Barroso's switch to investment bank Goldman Sachs and advised EU officials to treat Barroso like any other lobbyist in future. This "raises questions of integrity", Barroso complained. The press refuses to back him in this controversy.

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Jornal de Notícias (PT) /

No longer a statesman but a lobbyist

It really takes the biscuit that Barroso is now complaining about the way his successor Juncker is treating him, Jornal de Notícias rails:

“ There are several reasons to be amazed at the undignified public spectacle that has unfolded since Barroso's appointment at Goldman Sachs, but one in particular makes the whole thing even more surreal: the fact that the former EU Commission president and Portuguese prime minister still has the cheek to complain about discrimination on the part of the Commission. … What did he expect? Broad-based support from the European public? A slap on the back? … It wasn't Juncker who pulled the 'red carpet' from under his feet but Barroso himself, who thanks to his own enormous ambitiousness has stumbled on it. The red carpet is what we call a good reputation, honour, integrity. … The Goldman Sachs employee can't expect to be received like a statesman after choosing to become a lobbyist.”

De Standaard (BE) /

Catastrophic damage to the EU

De Standaard criticises Barroso's behaviour as an undignified spectacle:

“It is revealing that Barroso can't see that his plan - or what is left of it these days - is causing huge damage to the European Union. The letter written by a group of anonymous European officials that is published in this paper today speaks volumes. It expresses the pain of the ordinary people who feel how fragile Europe has become after the series of crisis - too weak to withstand an affair like this one. … Barroso's successor Jean-Claude Juncker is using all the weapons he has. He announced that his predecessor had forfeited all his privileges and that an ethics committee would look into the matter. But this is not a solution. Only if Barroso comes to his senses can the situation perhaps be saved.”

Pravda (SK) /

Portuguese rightly mad at their former PM

Former EU Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso's switch to Goldman Sachs is not going down well with his fellow Portuguese, Pravda observes:

“In the past politicians wrote their memoires when they retired. Nowadays they have ghost writers for that and prefer to put their experience to use in other areas. Just because Blair and Schröder are social democrats doesn't mean they're averse to lining their pockets. But when someone like Barroso, once a committed Maoist, is hired by the symbol of Wall Street, it does come as a bit of a shock. And it triggered a wave of anger in Portugal. That's understandable. The last years have been very difficult for the country. The people are tired of having to tighten their belts. When their former prime minister then goes and joins one of the companies that triggered the 2008 crisis that led to private banks being bailed out with public money, it's only natural that they start wondering whose interests the politicians are really serving.”

L'Echo (BE) /

If we want better politicians we must elect them

New rules won't be enough to keep greedy politicians in check: the EU's citizens must see to it themselves that they choose decent people to lead them, L'Echo warns:

“What Europe needs much more than a society full of codes of conduct, dictated respectability and enforced morals is true statesmen and stateswomen. Ones that put the common good before petty self-interest. But these new politicians won't emerge cut-off spaces full of regulations stipulating how many months must pass before they are allowed to devote themselves once more to their own egoism. Elections are the best way to produce these new politicians. … Europe needs drive and ambition. It needs politicians who propel it forwards and go beyond their own limits and forget themselves. Such men and women not only go down in the annals of history, they shape it too.”

Naftemporiki (GR) /

The right man in the right place

Business paper Naftemporiki sees Barroso's appointment at Goldman Sachs as a sensible move:

“He was president of the European Commission in one of the most difficult periods in the history of the Eurozone, when it was sorely put to the test by the debt crisis. Many believe that Barroso helped the Eurozone to overcome the crisis. … In Portugal his taking a job at an investment bank that was partly to blame for the credit crisis of 2008 has triggered fierce reactions and raised questions about a conflict of interests. But for the financial world, thanks to his experience and know-how Barroso is the right man in the right place. We shouldn't forget that he's not the first Brussels technocrat to put his skills at the service of the huge US investment bank: the president of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, worked for Goldman Sachs before he ended up in Frankfurt.”

Libération (FR) /

Such things should be banned

The EU should must urgently introduce rules to prevent such changes that harm the community's reputation from being repeated, Libération urges:

“This career change splashes mud on the entire EU. ... How can we fail to suspect Commission presidents and Commissioners of taking decisions so as to feather their own nests? The Commission and the member states must rapidly adopt rules to prohibit such conflicts of interest. With his change to the investment bank Goldman Sachs, for whom money is all that counts and the future of the Union the last of its worries, Barroso has given Europeans the finger. In fact he has not broken any roles, but that is just the problem.”

Diário de Notícias (PT) /

Barroso was never an idealist

Former head of the EU Commission José Manuel Barroso's appointment as chairman of Goldman Sachs comes as no surprise for Diário de Notícias:

“Goldman Sachs maintains very close ties to politics and lobbies with all the ferocity of a predator. … The list of former top managers at the investment bank who are or were connected to politics is endless. Now it's Barroso's turn: the former head of the European Commission has left the political arena with a great treasure of valuable knowledge and a long list of contacts. … No, Barroso is not going to the UN - he was always a pragmatist, never an idealist. There's a load of money to be earned now that the Brexit is under negotiation. Then there's the new bank regulations, the trade agreement with the US and of course the division of the EU and the uncertainty regarding the euro. 'One man's loss is another man's gain!'”