Commission memo encourages officials to conceal information from public scrutiny
A recently leaked European Commission internal memo actively encourages its officials to conceal information from public scrutiny.
The memo, issued by the Commission's trade department, tells officials they can evade European freedom of information laws by making two sets of documents, a neutral one for public release and a classified version for internal use only.
To download the leaked memo, click here.
The Galvin Report
The Galvin Report, named after Robert Galvin, the EU Internal Audit official whose name is on its front cover, was written at the end of 2006 as an audit of the expenses and allowances claimed by a sample of more than 160 MEPs. The existence of this shocking report was kept secret until February 2008 when news of its existence was made public by Chris Davies MEP. Even then, its contents remained secret and a select group of MEPs were only allowed to read the report individually in a locked and guarded room.
To find out more, please click here.
Santer Commission Resignation
In 1999, the Santer Commission was forced to resign after a whistle-blower report. The report was issued by Paul van Buitenen, a Dutch member of the EU Commission’s financial control unit and alleged that fraud was more widespread than what has been known to the public. One of the main targets of the report was French EU Commissioner Édith Cresson. Mrs Cresson was accused to have committed serious and repeated fraud, subordination of falsified contract, forging over people’s handwriting and embezzling of EU funds for her personal gain. During her time as a Commissioner she hired one of her close acquaintances, René Berthelot, a dental surgeon, as a highly paid EU adviser on HIV/Aids. Berthelot was later judged to be unqualified, he produced 24 pages of notes of little or no value in over two years of work for Mrs Cresson. In 2006, the European Court of Justice declared that Mrs Cresson acted in breach of her obligations as a European commissioner.
The Bangemann/Telefonica Scandal
Martin Bangemann was EU Commissioner for Industrial Affairs, Information and Telecommunications Technologies during the Santer Commision. After the collective resignation of the Santer Commission in March 1999 due to the fraud-scandal, he was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Spanish telecommunication company Telefonica just weeks later. The EU filed a lawsuit in 1999 because of possible conflicts of interests. The lawsuit was later dropped after Bangemann agreed to not start working for Telefonica before 2001.