Important legal notice
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Code of conduct for Commissioners

The Treaty articles on the Commission make special reference to the complete independence enjoyed by the Members of the Commission, who are required to discharge their duties in the general interest of the Community. In the performance of their duties they must neither seek nor take instructions from any government or from any other body.
In addition, the general interest requires that in their official and private lives Commissioners should behave in a manner that is in keeping with the dignity of their office. Ruling out all risks of a conflict of interests helps to guarantee their independence (section 1).
The general interest also requires that Commissioners establish good working relations, based on loyalty, trust and transparency, with their departments (section 2).

Independance et dignity: ethical issues haut

Private activities

Outside activities

Commissioners may not engage in any other professional activity, whether paid or unpaid. (For example, writing a regular column is regarded as a professional activity whereas giving courses free of charge in the interests of European integration on the other hand is permitted).

Commissioners shall notify the President if they are intending to publish a book during their term as Commissioner. Royalties from copyright in a work published in connection with their duties shall be paid over to a charity of their choice.

Commissioners may not accept any form of payment for delivering speeches or taking part in conferences.

Commissioners may hold honorary, unpaid posts in political, cultural, artistic or charitable foundations or similar bodies. They may also hold such posts in educational institutions. “Honorary posts” means posts in which the holder has no decision making power in the management of the body in question.

“Foundations or similar bodies” means non-profit-making organisations or associations which engage in activity in the public interest in the fields mentioned. Posts held on these terms shall under no circumstances involve any risk of a conflict of interest. They shall be listed in a declaration, laid down according to the model in annex to this Code.

The declaration must relate to activities engaged in over the last ten years and must distinguish between activities which ended before the Member of the Commission took up office and those which will continue after that point.

Courses given free of charge in the interests of European integration are the only other outside activities that are permitted, and do not have to be declared.

Commissioners may be active members of political parties or trade unions, provided that this does not compromise their availability for service in the Commission.

Commissioners shall inform the President of their intention to participate in an election campaign and the role they expect to play in that campaign. The President, taking into account the particular circumstances of the case, shall decide on whether the envisaged participation in the election campaign is compatible with the performance of the Commissioner’s duties.

Commissioners standing for election to public office shall also inform the President of their intended level of participation in the election campaign. If their intention is to play an active role in the election campaign, they must withdraw from the work of the Commission for the duration of the campaign.
Commissioners may not hold any public office of whatever kind.

Whenever Commissioners intend to engage in an occupation during the year after they have ceased to hold office, whether this be at the end of their term or upon resignation, they shall inform the Commission in good time. The Commission shall examine the nature of the planned occupation. If it is related to the content of the portfolio of the Commissioner during his/her full term of office, the Commission shall seek the opinion of an ad hoc ethical committee. In the light of the committee's findings it will decide whether the planned occupation is compatible with the last paragraph of Article 213(2) of the Treaty.

Financial interests and assets

Commissioners must declare any financial interest or asset which might create a conflict of interests in the performance of their duties. The declaration shall include any holdings by the Commissioner’s spouse which might entail a conflict of interests.

The financial interests which must be declared are any form of individual holding in company capital. This therefore includes shares but also any other form of holding such as convertible bonds or investment certificates.

Units in unit trusts, which do not constitute a direct interest in company capital, do not have to be declared.

Any property owned either directly or through a real estate company must be declared, with the exception of homes reserved for the exclusive use of the owner or his/her family.

Other property whose possession could create a conflict of interests, especially from a tax point of view, must also be declared.

Activities of spouses

To obviate any potential risk of a conflict of interests, Commissioners are required to declare the professional activities of their spouses.

The declaration must state the nature of the activity or the title of the position held and, if applicable, the name of the employer.

Declaration of interests

The attached form includes all information that Members of the Commission are required to declare under the Code of Conduct. It must be completed when the Member of the Commission takes office and revised during his or her term of office if the information changes.

Declarations shall be scrutinised under the authority of the President and with due regard for Members’ areas of responsibility. These declarations shall be made public.


Activities within the performance of their duties

Resignation of Commissioners

A Member of the Commission shall resign if the President so requests.

Collective responsibility and confidentiality

Out of respect for the principle of collective responsibility, Commissioners shall not make any comment which would call into question a decision taken by the Commission. They shall also refrain from disclosing what is said at meetings of the Commission.

Rules for missions

Missions are defined as travel by a Commissioner on Commission business away from the Commission’s place of work. They are governed according to the rules in annex.

Rules governing receptions and professional representation

The rules governing receptions and professional representation are laid down in the Commission decision of 19 September 1979 (COM(79) 507). Where entertainment expenses are not covered by this decision, they will be met by the Commissioner from the flat rate entertainment allowance provided for in the regulation laying down the emoluments of the Members of the Commission.

Acceptance of gifts, decorations or honours

Commissioners shall not accept any gift with a value of more than EUR 150. When, in accordance with diplomatic usage, they receive gifts worth more than this amount, they shall hand them over to the Commission's Protocol department. In case of doubt as to the value of a gift, an evaluation shall be undertaken under the authority of the Director of the Office for Infrastructure and Logistics in Brussels, whose decision on the matter shall be final.

The Commission’s Protocol department shall keep a public register of gifts with a value of more than EUR 150.

Commissioners shall notify the President of the Commission of any decoration, prize or honour awarded to them.


Loyalty, trust and transparency: the Commissionners and departments haut


The Treaty establishing the European Community and legislation adopted pursuant to that Treaty ("secondary legislation") confer on the Commission several duties, such as:

To this end, the Commission acts collectively on the basis of the political guidelines set by the President. The chain of responsibility runs from the level of the College to the level of the Commissioner, who is answerable to the College for his/her activities and those of his/her departments. The Commissioner lays down, in the light of the guidelines and work programme of the Commission and the principle of collegiality, the policy guidelines and priorities relating to his/her portfolio. He/she shall ensure that it is implemented by his departments, supervising the management of his/her Director-General or Head of Service (hereinafter the Director-General) and giving him/her, where necessary, the guidelines or general instructions to put these policies and priorities into practice.

The chain of responsibility continues down to department level in the person of the Director-General, who is answerable to the Commissioner and the College for the proper implementation of the guidelines set by the College and the Commissioner and, in particular, for the management of the Directorate-General or Service in line with the distribution of powers as defined by the Staff Regulations, the Financial Regulation, the Rules of Procedure and the rules laid down as part of the administrative and financial reform of the Commission.

In order to exercise his/her political responsibility and play his/her supervisory role, the Commissioner must receive the appropriate information from his own departments and the central departments, including information with regard to the quality of internal control put in place in his/her departments. This exercise does not in any way release the Director-General from his/her duty of informing specifically the Commissioner of any fact, situation or matter relating to the management, in particular, financial management, which could have a serious impact on his/her responsibility or that of the College.

The working arrangements made by each Commissioner in agreement with his/her departments and the methods for circulating information between them are transmitted, by way of information to the Head of the President’s cabinet and to the Secretary-General. Either of these may ask for further information and/or clarification.

Relations between Commissioners (their Cabinets) and departments are based first and foremost on loyalty, trust and transparency.
In addition to these general principles, the activities of Cabinets and departments are assigned with a view to complementing each other along the following lines.

The Cabinet, an adjunct to the Commissioner

The cabinet is an adjunct to the Commissioner. All information duly communicated to the cabinet in accordance with the working arrangements referred to above is information for the Commissioner.

The departments

In accordance with the procedures described at point 2.4 below, departments:

Basic rules

In order to ensure that the Institution operates as efficiently as possible on the basis of a permanent contact between Cabinets and departments, these principles shall be applied in accordance with the following rules.

Organisation of the work

In order to ensure effective collaboration and optimum management of the flow of information between Cabinets and departments, the mission statement and working arrangements must be laid down as soon as the Commissioner takes office.

The Director General shall organise and coordinate the work of departments in accordance with the guidelines laid down by the Commissioner.

Mission statement

The Commissioner shall determine the general policy line for his or her area of responsibility, including the "negative priorities", within the Commission's overall policy framework. In close consultation with the Director-General, this policy line shall then be set out in a mission statement. This mission statement shall be drawn up in the first month of the Commission's term; it shall be adjusted regularly as the situation changes. The original mission statement and its amendments shall be sent to the President and to the Secretary-General for information. They shall be published in the Directorate-General’s intranet website.

The Director-General shall assume full management responsibilities on this basis. The Director-General may ask the Commissioner for written confirmation.

Working arrangements and information channels

Working arrangements and information channels shall be laid down in the first month of the Commission's term of office by the Director-General and the Chef de cabinet, who will ensure that they are endorsed by the Commissioner.

A copy of these arrangements shall be sent to the President's Chef de cabinet and to the Secretary-General for information. They shall be published in the Directorate-General’s intranet website.

The annual activity report of a department shall include information on the implementation of the working arrangements and of the mission statement.

These rules must comply with the principles of loyalty, accountability, decentralisation, effectiveness, information and non-interference and cover the following areas:

To safeguard the organisational structure and the information and coordination channels set up, requests sent by a Cabinet to a department for which it is not responsible should in principle go via the Office of the Commissioner responsible. Similarly, departments will, as a rule, refrain from contacting other Cabinets direct; where they do so they will inform their own Cabinet of these contacts.

Specific cases of launching new initiatives and handling sensitive information for which the Commissioner and/or the College could be held responsible

Before launching any new initiative, other than on purely routine management matters, the Director-General shall first secure the agreement of the Commissioner, especially if initiating inter-departmental consultations. On matters of major importance joint meetings of Directors-General and Chefs de cabinet may be held.

As stated in point 2.3 above, departments are required to inform the Commissioner of any sensitive information which could call into question his/her responsibility or that of the College. The information is passed on through a formal referral procedure characterised by the following:

On taking office, the Commissioner must be informed of serious situations which had arisen previously and which have not yet been fully resolved. Information on any new situation of that kind that arises during his/her term of office must be provided immediately.

Management of resources

Management of financial resources

On taking up office, the Commissioner shall be informed by the departments of the scope, the respective responsibilities, the problems and risks linked to financial management in the Directorate-General or Service. The information shall include a detailed description of the financial circuits in place in the Directorate-General or Service, including internal control arrangements. The Commissioner shall also be informed of the most recent reports of the Court of Auditors, Parliamentary debates relating to the discharge, previous Annual Activity Reports, any comments by the Internal Audit Service (IAS) or the Central Financial Service (CFS), OLAF investigations closed or still ongoing , internal audit reports and progress made in the implementation of measures or action plans adopted on any of these matters. The Commissioner may, where necessary, ask the Commission to have the IAS carry out an immediate audit on an aspect of the financial management of the Directorate-General.

During the term of office, departments shall send to the Commissioner for approval the main documents relating to the strategic programming cycle .
Moreover, the Commissioner shall be regularly and properly informed of:

The aim of this dialogue is to inform the Commissioner before the drafting of the activity report, of any qualifications (comments and/or reservations) which could be added to the declarations. The action plan proposed by the Director-General shall be the subject of a written document and a specific follow up procedure.

With regard to the budget for administrative appropriations, there shall be strict demarcation between the Directorate-General and the Commissioner's Office in the management of its appropriations, for items such as mission expenses, entertainment expenses, etc.

Management of human resources

The guiding principle shall be to apply fully the general rules adopted by the Commission as part of its administrative reform.

For non management staff appointments shall be the responsibility of the Director General, acting in conjunction with the Directorate General for Personnel and Administration as regards the official instruments.

For appointments of Heads of Unit and Advisers, the Director-General shall conduct the selection procedure and choose the most suitable candidate in accordance with the specific procedures adopted by the Commission . He/she shall inform the Commissioner of his/her choice prior to formally adopting the decision in accordance with the AIPN rules.

Appointments to functions of Director General, Deputy Director General, Head of service or equivalent (A*/AD 16, A*/AD 15) and to Director or Principal Adviser (A*/AD 15, A*/AD 14) shall be made in accordance with the specific procedures adopted by the Commission . The Commission is AIPN for these decisions.

Vacancy notices for management posts should be published within no more than three months from when the post falls vacant.

Referral to the President

Should the Commissioner and the Director-General disagree on the application of these principles and rules or differ in their interpretation, they may refer the matter to the President.


Travel on official business (missions) by Commissioners

Budget haut

Mission expenses incurred by Commissioners travelling on official business are covered by an allocation from budget item 25.010213, voted each year by the Commission on a proposal from the President . The Office for administration and payment of individual entitlements (PMO) provides monthly statements of the state of this budget; if consumption exceeds what is available, the procedure is as follows:

Notification of mission - Cancellation of mission haut

A travel order, signed by the Commissioner concerned, must be drawn up for all missions using the appropriate form. It must set out the following:

Means of transport haut

Commissioners may use any means of transport appropriate for the purposes of the mission based on its cost-effectiveness and taking into account the needs of the Institution.

Tickets and travel expenses haut

Travel expenses reimbursed in the context of a mission are in principle for travel between Brussels and the place of the mission.

Tickets are issued on request by the Commission's official travel agency. The costs are borne in full by the Commissioner's mission allocation. Any unused, including partly unused, tickets or reservations must be returned promptly to the travel agency. Copies of tickets and boarding cards must be attached to expense claims. Any private travel will be personally paid for by the Commissioner, who will pay the travel agency directly by credit card.

Chartering air taxis haut

The use of air taxis will be authorised by the President in accordance with the following rules:

Commissioners who feel they need to use an air taxi should send an application in advance to the President giving reasons and specifying who will accompany them, indicating whether those persons (whether working within the institutions or not) are to bear a share of the charter expenses. That share amounts to the price of a regular airline ticket for the journey planned in accordance with the Guide to Missions. Air taxis may be ordered only once the President has given approval and a copy of this has been sent to the PMO.

Duration of a mission haut

The duration of a mission is reckoned from the time of departure to the time of arrival back at the place of employment by the means of transport used.

Missions combinde with leave haut

Missions combined with leave are reckoned as starting at the beginning of the official work if the leave is taken before the mission and as finishing at the close of the official engagement if the leave follows the mission. The same applies in the case of public holidays and weekends, unless the work schedule provides otherwise. Even if this is the case, however, no allowances are paid for the public holidays/weekends if the official engagement is in the country of origin of the Commissioner.

Daily subsistence allowance haut

The daily subsistence allowance payable to Commissioners is the allowance payable to officials plus 5%. This is calculated using the rules applicable to officials in the Guide des missions.

Hotel expenses haut

Hotel expenses (excluding breakfast and other meals) are reimbursed on presentation of the bill. If hotel expenses exceed € 300 per day, a justification shall be attached to the statement of expenses.

Other expenses haut

Other expenses justified by the nature of the mission are reimbursed on application and on presentation of supporting documents. Entertainment and representation expenses must be claimed separately in line with a Commission decision governing such expenses.

Expenses claim haut

Commissioners must send an application as soon as possible for the reimbursement of mission expenses to the PMO using the appropriate form.

Claims must contain the following details:

All supporting documents must be attached.

Certain expenses paid by representative offices and Commission delegations in other countries haut

Certain expenses typically incurred on missions by Commissioners may be paid at the destination by Representative Offices and Commission Delegations, provided a request signed by the Head of Cabinet is made beforehand to the PMO for authorisation to incur the expenditure. The PMO will send this request to DG BUDG for approval. However, this is an exceptional procedure only to be used when payments are not possible by other means. In this context, corporate credit cards are the most appropriate way of payment and their use is highly recommended.

The type and expected amount of expenses must be specified. These expenses will be charged to the Commissioner's allocation once it has been declared by the Office or Delegation concerned, provided a travel order has been drawn up. Otherwise, they will be treated as private expenses and deducted from the Commissioner's salary.

Special rules concerning missions by commssionners' drivers and the use of the car pools of Commission offices and delegations in other countries haut

Under Article 14 of the Commission's Decision of 14 September 1979, all Commissioners have an official car and driver assigned to them at all times. Drivers may not be asked to make private journeys if this involves overtime or mission expenses for the driver, unless security dictates.

Drivers are covered by a travel order when driving the official car of a Commissioner, even if the Commissioner or a private office official is not in the car, when returning from an official destination or bringing the car back from there. Claims for mission expenses should be filled in by the driver and signed by the Head of

Cabinet, giving the following particulars:

Drivers’ mission expenses are covered by the private office’s own mission budget.

A Commissioner visiting a Representative Office or a Commission Delegation is entitled to an official car on the spot, if the Office or Delegation is directly involved in the mission. If it is not, a self-drive or chauffeur-driven car may be hired from a local car-hire firm. Car-hire costs are charged to the Commissioner's mission allocation.

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