Goldman Sachs announced on Friday the appointment of José Manuel “Durão” Barroso as a non-executive chairman and advisor to the international arm of the U.S. investment bank giant.

Barroso served as president of the European Commission from 2004 to 2014. While prime minister of Portugal from 2002 to 2004 Barroso hosted the Lajes summit, also known as a the “war summit”, in the Azores alongside George W. Bush, Tony Blair and José María Aznar where the decision to launch the illegal war on Iraq was formalised under false pretext. Barroso's appointment, the latest case of “revolving doors” between politics and business for former officials, drew a barrage of criticism from across Europe.

The US Department of Justice found Goldman Sachs guilty three months ago of knowingly misleading investors between 2005 and 2007, in an act that tipped the economy into recession and causing billions of dollars in losses for investors after the housing bubble burst. Barroso, in his role as Commission President, lead in the imposition of top-down austerity policies that followed the crisis and continue to impoverish European citizens to this day. 

GUE/NGL MEP João Ferreira denounced the shameless conflict of interest underlying this latest appointment:

“Barroso changes jobs but continues, in practice, defending the same interests as he did during his decade-long role as President of the European Commission – that of big financial capital. This is yet another case that proves the promiscuity and fusion that exists between EU institutions and big financial capital. These are the interests that the EU defends, against the interests of the workers and the people.”

“This appointment only reinforces, among other things, the urgent necessity of revoking all laws relating to the Banking Union, returning sovereignty over the financial sector back to member states and rejecting the subordination of management and supervision of this strategic sector to the interests of big financial capital,” the Portuguese MEP affirmed.

There were calls for the rules to be changed to prevent the appointment of former European Commissioners to posts with potential conflict of interest. There is currently a “cooling-off” period of 18 months imposed by the EU after officials leave their posts but this is seen as insufficient.

GUE/NGL MEP Marisa Matias called for an end to the impunity enjoyed by former EU officials:

“This appointment is completely shameful. Barroso waited for the end of his 18 months to immediately collect his reward for the good job he did for Goldman Sachs and the financial markets, by devastating the life of millions of European citizens with austerity in Portugal, Greece, Ireland, Spain, Italy, among others. This shows what interests European leaders follow and a good example of why the European Union got to this appalling state. “

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