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1981-2009: 39% of EU Commissioners became private interest representatives

In a paper titled “There is life after the Commission: An empirical analysis of private interest representation by former EU-commissioners, 1981–2009” (The Review of International Organizations, Issue 1/2012) Roland Vaubel, Bernhard Klingen and David Müller have published data and analyses of the post-Commission life of 92 former EU Commissioners who did not die in office or short thereafter (3 cases).

The authors test whether certain characteristics of Commissioners – home country, party orientation, age, education, year of leaving the Commission, portfolio, time in office – were more likely to explain their choice to enter into jobs in private interest groups

Some of their findings:

  • - 36 of the 92 entered into private interest jobs after their time in office
  • - 22 of 36 work(ed) for organisations that are/were not registered in the EU interest group register
  • - 50% of Conservative/Christian Democrat and independent, 45% of Liberal but only 21% of Socialist and Green Commissioners went into private interest jobs afterwards
  • - All Commissioners for Competition (5/5), 8 of 9 Internal Market Commissioners 4 of 6 Economic & Monetary Affairs Commissioners and 4 of 7 Commissioners for Agriculture, for Energy and for Industry went into private interest jobs
  • - 24 of the remaining 56 without private interest occupation re-entered European or national politics
  • - 0 Scandinavian Commissioners took private interest jobs after their term(s)

Overall, the paper is very heavy in descriptive statistics, and although the authors try to test some hypotheses, the small number of cases makes that this test is more indicative than actually more revealing than the description. Very nice is the appendix with all the names and the private interest jobs they took after their time in office – although it would have been even nicer to also indicate for those who had gone back into politics where they had gone.



5 Responses to 1981-2009: 39% of EU Commissioners became private interest representatives

  1. avatar Martinned says:

    Is this a lot? (Compared to national members of cabinet?)

  2. avatar Ronny Patz says:

    No idea. The authors only give comparative figures from a study on members of US regulatory commissions in around 1980 (which is higher with 51-62% depending on what is counted).

  3. avatar Martinned says:

    I will ponder the issue. For now, let’s wonder what else we’d expect them to do. Go back to national politics, that’s about it.

    (I noticed that Bolkesteijn, for example, is listed as part of the 39% on account of having represented Air France/KLM. I’m sure he has, but I’m also sure that this hardly rises to the level of him becoming a serious lobbyist like you see American politicians doing. Instead, he sits on the board of that company and occasionally he goes down to Brussels to wine and dine some Eurocrats. So that suggests that their definition of “private interest representative” is pretty broad.)

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