Research Associate at the EUI Academy of European Law, Lola Avril has recently published with Emilia Korkea-aho, Professor of European Law and Legislative Studies at the University of Eastern Finland, the article ‘The EU and its ‘Exes’. Probing the Limits of Revolving Door Rules’ on the Verfassungsblog.
In September 2021, MEPs voted in favour of a new EU Ethics Body to oversee movements of personnel between the public and the private sector and proposed an inter-institutional agreement to this end. In their co-authored article, Avril and Korkea-aho outline why the new Ethics Body body fails to address the gaps in EU revolving doors regulation. To tackle the issue, they call for a renewed research agenda on revolving doors, lobbying and conflict of interests.
Taking the example of European competition policy and law firms in Brussels, Avril and Korkea-aho look at two problematic aspects of revolving doors regulation. Firstly, the regulation focuses on the highest positions in EU institutions: the Independent Ethical Committee oversees only people who have had a mandate as Commissioner. However, masses of lower officials move from the public to the private sector and back again, and this lower-level mobility is not picked up by the regulatory radar or by public attention. Secondly, the authors insist on a particularly worrying form of public/private transfers: those towards law firms. Indeed, there is an ambiguity about lawyers' activities, and in particular about the distinction between legal advice and lobbying. Today, it remains difficult for the Committee to ensure that lawyers will limit themselves to legal advice.
Avril and Korkea-aho call for a renewed research agenda on revolving doors, which would help identify gaps and grey zones in EU policies and assist in grasping the institutional and professional logic behind this phenomenon.
Lola Avril and Emilia Korkea-aho are conducting a study on the Independent Ethical Committee’s opinions. Lola Avril contributed to Emilia Korkea-aho’s forthcoming book (co-edited with Päivi Leino-Sandberg) ‘Legal Expertise and EU Policy-Making’ (Cambridge University Press, in press).