France backs EU ethics probe into Barroso’s Goldman job
French President Francois Hollande Tuesday threw his weight behind a Brussels probe into whether former European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso breached EU ethics guidelines by joining US bank Goldman Sachs.
“I fully support this initiative,” said Hollande, a day after current Commission boss Jean-Claude Juncker announced an investigation into his predecessor.
“When you know that Goldman Sachs was one of the reasons for the difficulties we encountered” during the financial crisis, “that justifies a procedure, the one that Juncker has just started,” said Hollande on a trip to Bucharest.
Juncker said on Monday his team would send Barroso a letter asking him to “provide clarification on his new responsibilities and the terms of reference of his contract.”
The Commission boss said he would also seek the advice of its non-binding Ethical Committee on the matter.
Hollande has previously attacked Barroso’s appointment to a role as non-executive chairman and advisor at the US investment bank as “morally unacceptable”.
Goldman Sachs was heavily involved in selling complex financial products, including subprime mortgages that contributed to the world financial crisis in 2008.
Barroso headed the Commission from 2004 to 2014, overseeing membership for several former communist states in Eastern Europe, the response to the global financial crash and the ensuing eurozone debt crisis.