Ethics under the spotlight as V-P Šefčovič meets the European Ombudsman
The European Commission's approach to lobbying, ethics and transparency were the main topics for discussion on Thursday morning (7 March) when Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič welcomed the European Ombudsman in Brussels for a debate with the network of ethics correspondents within the European Commission.
European citizens expect their public servants to work to the very highest ethical standards and remain free of any outside interest or lobby. That is why the Commission has put in place a number of rules and guidelines to help all staff, including the Commissioners themselves, to navigate their way through this potential minefield.
The rules cover a wide range of issues, from the acceptance of gifts to advice on whistleblowing, and they can be easily accessed through the Commission's transparency portal. In addition, the Commission has created a network of ethics correspondents within each Directorate General to help advise staff on specific conflict of interest issues.
Speaking at a meeting of the ethics correspondents alongside the Ombudsman Nikiforos Diamandouros, Vice-President Šefčovič highlighted the general principles covering the work of European civil servants: independence, impartiality, objectivity, loyalty and respect.
"Promoting these values across the Commission requires continuous awareness-raising, making sure that we reach all staff," he said, underlining the work of the ethics correspondents. "Ethics training is mandatory for all newcomers, managers recruited from outside the Commission are expected to sign a statement that they are aware of their ethical obligations, DGs are highly active in promoting ethics and several have their own specific codes of conduct."
He added that the Commission was also developing new ways to help raise awareness on ethical issues, for example through the Intranet or social media, as well as making it easier for staff to report ethical issues, for example through the Commission's electronic human resources platform.