Changing Sides

Do you know what the revolving door refers too?

It describes the miracolous way in which people change from important positions in politics to others in the private sector or vice versa. At worst, they might even be involved in both areas at the same time.

Now, why is that a problem? The revolving door describes especially cases where regulation is involved. Wikipedia explains: “the revolving door is the movement of personnel between roles as legislators and regulators and the industries affected by the legislation and regulation”. Obviously, this means either serious conflicts of interests or simply manipulation.

The Corporate Europe Observatory has realized that this problem is serious and put up a Revolving Door Watch in Brussels. They write: “Brussels is home to one of the highest concentrations of political power in the world and the revolving door is one of the most important ways in which lobbyists can influence the political agenda in Brussels. When senior European decision-makers leave office and go straight into lobby jobs, or when lobbyists join the EU institutions, the risk of significant conflicts of interest is great, undermining democratic, public-interest decision-making.”

The Corporate Europe Observatory believes that the EU is not transpartent on this issue and that is why they publish on their page a list of people who have gone through the revolving door and are now on the other side of the fight on regulations.There you will find for example Suzy Renckens who worked for the European Food Safety Authority as the Head of GMO unit for 5 years before changing to her new employer Syngenta as Regional Manager for Biotechnology Regulatory Affairs – what a coincidence, right? There is also Thomas Lönngren who “was Executive Director of the European Medicines Agency until December 2010. In January 2011, he set up his own consultancy and joined NDA group, which specialises in advising the pharmaceutical industry.” The list is long, check it out here.

In collaboration with ALTER-EU the CEO asks for:

  • A ban of at least two years for all EU staff from becoming lobbyists
  • New rules to regulate lobbyists who join EU institutions
  • Full transparency about all revolving door cases

You can join the campaign for transparency and control of revolving doors on the ALTER-EU page. However, the revolving door is far from being a problem only in Europe. The Center for Responsive Politics in Washington writes: “Although the influence powerhouses that line Washington’s K Street are just a few miles from the U.S. Capitol building, the most direct path between the two doesn’t necessarily involve public transportation. Instead, it’s through a door—a revolving door that shuffles former federal employees into jobs as lobbyists, consultants and strategists just as the door pulls former hired guns into government careers.” Read more on this problem in the US on their page.


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