[REPONSE] Parlement européen, Question écrite E-000769/2023 de Nikolaj Villumsen (The Left) – A quelle fréquence les directeurs généraux de la Commission évaluent-ils leurs propres conflits d’intérêts ?

Niveau juridique : Union européenne

Texte de la question :

« During the press briefing on Monday 6 March 2023, it was made clear that it is standard practice at the Commission for directors-general to do their own assessments of whether there are conflicts of interest in matters in which they themselves are involved [1]. This naturally raises questions about the independence of such assessments and the integrity of the system. It is also unclear how often such assessments are carried out and what the outcome is.

In the light of this :

1. How many times since the start of this Commission’s term of office have Commission directors-general assessed potential conflicts of interest involving themselves ?

2. In how many instances, since the start of this Commission’s term of office, have Commission directors-general decided that there was a potential conflict of interest involving themselves ?

3. How many times, since the start of this Commission’s term of office, have directors-general consulted their political authorities as to whether a particular matter might constitute a conflict of interest ? »

Réponse donnée par Mr Hann au nom de la Commission européenne le 9 septembre 2023

« According to the Staff Regulations [1], all staff shall not deal with any matter in which, directly or indirectly, they have any personal interest such as to impair their independence.

Any official to whom it falls, in the performance of his/her duties, to deal with a matter that could raise a conflict of interest shall immediately inform his/her hierarchy.

Directors-General are not exempted from this general rule. In case of missions with costs fully or partially covered by third parties, any actual or potential conflict of interest must be excluded before authorising the mission.

Acceptance of cost coverage is usually required for diplomatic or courtesy purposes and is declared as part of the mission order and report. The mission order and report are always countersigned by the hierarchy of the travelling staff member.

Directors-General were the ones signing off on their own missions in the dedicated IT system as they are head of service and thus responsible for their service’s budget and overall organisation.

However, in case of doubt of a potential conflict of interest, they should seek an opinion of the political level and/or of the Commission’s central ethics service, based on the general rule on conflicts of interest. In the past, there was no automatic recording of such consultations in the Commission’s IT tool for mission management (MIPS). Therefore, the requested statistics are not available.

On 7 March 2023, the Commission strengthened — with immediate effect — the existing rules governing missions with contributions from third parties to eliminate any actual, potential, or perceived conflict of interest.

Since that date, the Directors-General and Heads of Service must always demonstrably consult the Head of Cabinet of the Commissioner of their policy area, when signing off on their own missions, if costs are covered partially or in full by third parties.

The visa chain in MIPS will be adapted to include this consultation. »

[1] OJ P 045 14.6.1962, p. 1385, as amended. Consolidated version currently in force available at: eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A01962R0031-20230101

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