CODE ON ETHICS AND INTEGRITY
OF DG COMP STAFF
This version of the code is being revised.
Main actors in DG COMP
The Appointing Authority (AA)
is in most cases the Director-General
The Internal Compliance Officer
(formerly "Ethics compliance officer")
is part of Unit R2 – Finance and Internal Compliance
and is available for further clarifications on deontological matters:
The HR Business Correspondent
is attached to the Director General
and can be contacted for matters requiring the approval of the AA
Sysper module for declarations
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INTRODUCTION ....................................................................................................... 2
GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF STAFF ETHICS AND CONDUCT ........................... 4
2.1. Independence, loyalty, impartiality and objectivity in our daily work .............. 4
2.2. Duty of dignity - professional and private behaviour ........................................ 5
2.3. Respect of colleagues ........................................................................................ 5
2.4. Safeguarding Commission resources and assets ............................................... 5
THE CONCEPT OF CONFLICT OF INTEREST ...................................................... 6
CONFLICT OF INTEREST DECLARATIONS ........................................................ 7
4.1. Identification of a possible conflict of interest .................................................. 7
Purpose of the in-house declarations of conflict of interest ................ 7
Types of in-house declarations of conflict of interest ......................... 7
4.2. Declaring possible conflicts of interests to the Appointing Authority .............. 9
MAIN POTENTIAL CONFLICT OF INTEREST SITUATIONS IN DG COMP ..... 9
5.1. General remarks................................................................................................. 9
5.2. Holding of financial interests .......................................................................... 10
5.3. Previous employment ...................................................................................... 11
5.4. Spouse gainful employment ............................................................................ 12
INSIDER DEALING ................................................................................................. 14
GIFTS / HOSPITALITIES / DECORATION AND HONOUR .............................. 15
7.1. Gifts ................................................................................................................. 15
7.2. Hospitality ....................................................................................................... 16
7.3. Honours and decorations ................................................................................. 18
POLITICAL ACTIVITIES, STANDING FOR PUBLIC OFFICE AND
OUTSIDE POLITICAL PRESSURE ........................................................................ 18
8.1. Political activities and outside political pressure ............................................ 18
8.2. Standing for public office ................................................................................ 18
FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND PROFESSIONAL SECRECY ...................... 19
9.1. General principles ............................................................................................ 19
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9.2. Publications and speeches on EU-related matters: obligation to inform the
AA in advance ................................................................................................. 21
9.3. Publications and speeches on non EU-related matters: no authorisation to
publish is needed ............................................................................................. 23
9.4. Contacts with the media .................................................................................. 23
9.5. Relations with citizens .................................................................................... 24
9.6. Relations with Interest groups – lobbies ......................................................... 25
10. OUTSIDE ACTIVITIES ........................................................................................... 25
10.1. General rules .................................................................................................... 25
10.2. Drafting publications and speeches (EU or non-EU related) .......................... 27
10.3. Procedure for asking authorisation .................................................................. 27
10.4. Receiving payments for outside activities ....................................................... 28
10.5. Special regime for missions (speeches, presentations, conferences) ............... 28
11. ETHICAL OBLIGATIONS DURING LEAVE ON PERSONAL GROUNDS
(CONGÉ DE CONVENANCE PERSONNELLE - CCP) .......................................... 30
12. ETHICAL OBLIGATIONS FOR FORMER STAFF ............................................... 32
12.1. Former officials, contract and temporary agents ............................................. 32
12.2. Seconded National Experts ............................................................................. 34
13. REPORTING IMPROPRIETIES AND WHISTLEBLOWING .............................. 34
14. ADMINISTRATIVE INQUIRIES AND DISCIPLINARY PROCEDURES ........... 36
Relevant legislation and forms on ethics ........................................... 38
Delegation of powers to act as an appointing authority in DG
Relevant provisions of Directive 2003/6/EC of the European
Parliament and of the Council of 28 January 2003 on insider dealing and
market manipulation (market abuse) (OJ L 96/16 of 12 April 2003) .............. 40
ANNEX 4 Which authorisation do I need to seek to: draft a text, perform a
speech, publish a text, receive payment for a speech or a text? ...................... 43
AA – appointing authority
CCP – leave on personal grounds
CoI – conflict of interest
ECO – Ethics & Compliance Officer
IDOC - Investigation and Disciplinary Office of the Commission
SNE - seconded national expert
SR – Staff Regulations
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One of DG COMP’s priorities is to ensure that staff meets the highest possible
professional and ethical standards. Competition policy and enforcement are
areas where the stakes are high for all parties concerned, and DG COMP is
entrusted with a great responsibility in this regard. Accordingly, each of us has a
duty to act with the utmost integrity at all times.
One cannot sufficiently stress the importance of all staff in DG COMP being
familiar with the applicable rules regarding ethics and integrity
Commission. These rules are meant to protect not only the Commission’s
interests but also its reputation. They also protect individual staff members and
third parties from any malicious allegations or misrepresentations. In most cases,
dealing correctly with ethics is above all a question of common sense and open
communication. The existence of a conflict of interest situation constitutes an
infringement of the ethics rules, if it is not handled appropriately and without
delay (article 11a of the Staff Regulations).
Against this background, the purpose of this DG COMP Code on Ethics and
is to set out and clarify, in the specific context of working in DG
COMP, the rules concerning ethics and integrity that are applicable in the
Commission. These rules are laid down in the Staff Regulations1
, the Code of
good administrative behaviour, the Financial Regulation, and in various
Commission decisions and guidelines. They are also further explained in the
Commission's Communication on enhancing the environment for professional
and the case-law of the EU Courts.3
This Code therefore aims at
providing guidance to DG COMP staff via a single document on the application
of the different Commission's ethical rules.
The DG COMP Code does not
establish new substantive rules
obligations other than those set out in the Staff Regulations and the relevant
rules and regulations of the Commission on ethics and integrity. It has been
drafted in consultation with DG Human Resources and Security (DG HR), the
Secretariat General (SG) and the Legal Service (LS), taking into account
accepted practice in the application and interpretation of the Staff Regulations
and other relevant texts, as well as relevant case law.
The Code touches upon issues that may arise for all staff, including how to
handle potential conflicts of interest arising from personal interests (financial
1 See relevant provisions in title II (rights and obligations of officials) of the Staff Regulations, which are
not only applicable to Commission officials but also to other staff members such as temporary agents
and contract staff (see Article 11 and 81 of the Conditions of Employment of Other Servants of the
2 Communication of 5 March 2008, SEC (2008) 301 final.
3 It is recalled that national legislation is also applicable to staff members in case, for instance, of insider
dealing which constitutes a criminal offence in most national laws (see para 68
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interests, family interests, etc.) when assigned to a case, when and under what
conditions to accept gifts and hospitalities, when and under what conditions
outside activities (such as teaching at University, etc.) can be carried out, what
needs to be done when a staff member wants to publish an article or speech,
what are the limitations on the freedom of speech, etc. Are not covered in the
Code the obligations that are the counterpart of administrative rights (education,
child allowances, expatriation allowances, medical reimbursements, mission
allowances, etc.), for which false declarations are liable to receive strong
The Code takes into account recommendations made by the Internal Audit
in the context of the audit which was carried out in 2008/2009 on ethics
in DG COMP, further guidance provided on ethics and integrity by DG HR, as
well as our concrete experience in ethical matters since the DG COMP Code on
Ethics and Integrity entered into force4.
Save as otherwise provided5, t
his Code applies to all DG COMP staff in active
, including all officials, temporary agents, contract agents and Seconded
National Experts (SNEs). The Code refers as a rule to the ethical obligations in
the Staff Regulations. These provisions are not only applicable to officials but mutatis mutandis
also to temporary and contract agents.6
The ethical rules
applicable to SNE's are largely similar but, where the rules are different, this is
indicated in the text.7
Insofar as this Code explains the detailed application of the Staff Regulations it
directly apply to persons who work in DG COMP without having a
direct contractual relationship with it, such as external service providers8
and non-regular external staff
, such as persons who work as independent
contractors on particular projects, consultants, persons commissioned to carry
out studies, intérimaires
These persons are, however, subject to the
provisions on ethics and integrity as set out in the framework contract between
the Commission and their employer. These provisions are largely similar to the
ethical obligations imposed on Commission staff and the guidance given in this
4 DG COMP's current Code on Ethics was adopted in 2008 and revised in 2010.
5 For instance certain sections of the code apply to former staff or staff on leave on personal grounds
6 Articles 11 to 26 of the Staff Regulations apply by analogy to temporary and contract agents by virtue
of Articles 11 and 81 of the Conditions of Employment of Other Servants.
7 The ethical rules applicable to SNEs are laid down in Article 7 of Commission Decision
of 12.11.2008 laying down rules on the secondment to the Commission of national experts
and national experts in professional training, C(2008) 6866 final (http://myintracomm.ec.europa.eu/hr_admin/en/external_staff/nat_expert/Documents/regime_end_200
8 These are the external service providers who work in the IT Unit R.3 of DG COMP.
9 For more details on non-regular external experts see:
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COMP Code is therefore to a large extent also of relevance for external staff
working in DG COMP.
Trainees are subject to the Code on Ethics and Integrity of DG COMP
The COMP Code on ethics and integrity also applies to the cabinet
the Commissioner for Competition.
There are frequent references in the text to the "Appointing Authority"
who has the power to decide on ethical issues11.
In general terms the Appointing
Authority's powers are exercised by the Directorate General12.
In some cases,
mainly for staff members above the level of director, these powers are exercised
by the Director-General for Human Resources and Security, or the Member of
the Commission responsible for Human Resources. For Cabinet members it will
be the Head of Cabinet (or DG HR for disciplinary matters) and for the Head of
Cabinet the Commissioner responsible for COMP (or the College/HR
Commissioner for disciplinary matters) .
The Code is a living document that is regularly reviewed. DG COMP Staff will
be informed on any major updates of the Code. Should you have any questions
or identify any gaps, please do not hesitate to contact the ECO (Benjamin
DESURMONT - COMP.R.2, tel. 84236, functional mailbox: comp-
The main function of the ECO is to monitor the consistent
and coherent implementation of ethical rules and to act as a first port of call on
the ethical issues covered in the different regulations and associated guidance
2. GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF STAFF ETHICS AND CONDUCT
The overarching principles guiding staff behaviour in the Commission are:
independence, loyalty, impartiality, objectivity and dignity.
2.1. Independence, loyalty, impartiality and objectivity in our daily work
First and foremost, the work of DG COMP staff should be guided by the general
obligations of loyalty, independence and impartiality, as laid down in Article 11
of the Staff Regulations. According to that provision, staff is required to act
solely with the interests of the Union in mind, to carry out duties objectively,
11 See Commission Decision of 15 June 2010 on the exercise of powers conferred by the Staff
Regulations on the Appointing Authority and by the Conditions of Employment of other Servants on
the Authority Empowered to Conclude Contracts of Employment, C(2010)3680 final.
12 On 5 October 2010, the Director General for Competition delegated some of his powers to the
Director of Directorate R and the Head of Unit COMP/R.2. See Annex 2.
13 To ensure overall consistency the ECO will, in case of doubt as regards the implementation of the
Code, consult DG HR's Ethics, Rights and Obligations Unit (HR.B.1).
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impartially and in keeping with the duty of loyalty not to seek or take
instructions from outside the institution.
Conclusions or decisions should be balanced and based on a thorough analysis
of the relevant rules and underlying facts.
The duty of loyalty requires that DG COMP staff aims at achieving the
Commission’s objectives effectively and efficiently, and dutifully implement its
legitimate decisions. In other words, once the Commission or DG COMP has
adopted a final position, DG COMP staff must stay loyal to this position. Staff
must ensure that any conflict which could arise between their personal views and
the Commission position is handled properly. See also section 9 "Freedom of
2.2. Duty of dignity - professional and private behaviour
of the Staff Regulations obliges Commission staff to refrain from any
behaviour that might reflect adversely upon his/her position. This duty targets
the professional and private behaviour of the entire staff of DG COMP and is
broadly defined to cover any acts that are "sufficiently serious", as to reflect
badly on the European Public service and/or which bring it into disrepute.
2.3. Respect of colleagues
DG COMP staff is expected to address colleagues and superiors in DG COMP
as well as colleagues in other DGs/institutions and external stakeholders with
respect and consideration. Even in case of conflicting views, e.g. between
different DGs, it is important to remain polite and to uphold the common
objective of seeking a constructive solution to the problem. In case of
harassment, a specific procedure is in place as described on IntraComm
2.4. Safeguarding Commission resources and assets
In using Commission resources, such as computer equipment, e-mail and
internet access, telephones, mobile phones and fax equipment, photocopying
machines or even the cafeteria utensils, DG COMP staff should constantly bear
in mind three basic principles. First of all, staff must ensure the proper and
efficient use of the resources so as to protect the financial interests of the
European Union. Secondly, using Commission resources for non-professional
purposes can adversely affect the reputation of the Commission. Thirdly, the
interest of the service requires that working hours are used for work.
For instance, communication tools (e-mail and internet access, telephones,
mobile phones and faxes) have been installed by the Commission for official
use. However, these facilities may be used for private purposes as long as it is on
a purely occasional basis and does not amount to extensive use of the equipment
for private purposes. As regards telephones and mobile phones, occasional
personal use is permitted at the user’s expense. Either a PIN code has to be used
for each private communication by telephone or staff may indicate in GESTEL
the private numbers they have dialled during a certain period. Further guidelines
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on what constitutes an acceptable use of the Commission's ICT Services have
been laid down in Administrative Notice 45-200614
Specifically regarding the internet, it should be remembered that the
infrastructure the Commission has to establish in order to provide staff with
access to the internet is costly. The more the internet is used the more
infrastructure and manpower are needed.
You should be aware that the Commission may monitor the use of Internet and
other information and communication technologies. Moreover some categories
have been blocked. They are related to information security, malware, sexual
content, illegal drugs, violence, hate, racism, games, remote access tools and
proxy avoidance. Categories that consume high bandwidth, such as audio and
video, are not blocked but should be used for work-related purposes only.
3. THE CONCEPT OF CONFLICT OF INTEREST
Article 11a of the Staff Regulations establishes an obligation for all staff15
avoid situations of conflict of interest in the performance of their duties.
Article 11a (1) and (3) of the Staff Regulations says:
"1. An official shall not, in the performance of his duties and save as hereinafter provided, deal
with a matter in which, directly or indirectly, he has any personal interest such as to impair his
independence, and, in particular, family and financial interests.
3. An official may neither keep nor acquire, directly or indirectly, in undertakings which are
subject to the authority of the institution to which he belongs or which have dealings with that
institution, any interest of such kind or magnitude as might impair his independence in the
performance of his duties".
The concept of conflict of interest in Article 11a of the Staff Regulations is a
broad concept. It comprises not only real and potential but also apparent
conflicts of interest. An apparent or perceived conflict of interest may be defined
as a situation where there is a personal interest (such as family ties; personal
friendships; holding of financial interests; previous employment; gifts, favours
and donations; external activities and remunerations; political affinities, etc.)
which might reasonably be thought by others to influence the public official’s
duties, even if there is not, in fact, such an undue influence16.
A conflict of interest exists, therefore, where there is a risk that policy
recommendations, decisions or negotiations might be influenced as a result of
the existence of a direct or indirect interest in one of the parties involved. The
assessment as to whether a personal interest is of such magnitude as to impair
14 For more details see http://www.cc.cec/guide/publications/infoadm/2006/ia06045_en.html
15 Article 11a SR applies to Commission officials and by analogy also to temporary and contract agents
(see para 7). Similar rules apply to SNEs under the Commission Decision of 12.11.2008 (see footnote
16 See case T-21/01 Zavvos v Commission
 ECR p. II-483.
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the official’s independence does not rest solely with the staff member. This
assessment exercise will be carried out together with his/her management and in
close coordination with the ECO.
For example, if you are involved in a case, or are in a position to influence the decision-making
process through the procedures within DG COMP, and a member of your family works in a
company involved in the case, this fact should be made known immediately.
4. CONFLICT OF INTEREST DECLARATIONS
4.1. Identification of a possible conflict of interest
4.1.1. Purpose of the in-house declarations of conflict of interest
DG COMP requests its staff members to make an 'in-house' declaration for any
possible conflict of interest, recalling their obligations regarding personal
interests (in particular family or financial).17
The purpose of the in-house declarations is to raise awareness of and help
identify possible conflict of interest situations so that these can be addressed and
avoided at an early stage. If it is considered that there is a conflict of interest
situation, the staff member concerned will not be assigned to the case, project or
task in which s/he appears to have an interest and thus the conflict of interest
situation would be avoided. In case a staff member is assigned to a case for
which s/he has made a declaration of conflict of interest, and for which her/his
superior has maintained the assignment, the staff member may invoke Article
21a of the Staff Regulations.
4.1.2. Types of in-house declarations of conflict of interest
There are two types of in-house declarations of conflict of interest situations, a
case/horizontal task declaration and an inspection declaration.
All members of a case team (including the case manager and case
secretaries/assistants) need to make a case specific declaration
of CoI when
they are assigned to a case. An automated procedure via the case management
applications (Natacha for antitrust, CMS for mergers and ISIS for state aid) has
been developed in this regard. Under the automated system, all members of the
case team receive an automatic e-mail alert when they are assigned to a case,
with a link to the relevant case application. The link leads to the CoI module of
17 The obligation to make in-house conflict of interest declarations applies to DG COMP staff in active
service. DG COMP staff on CCP or on secondment is not required to make in house declarations, but
they remain under the obligation to make a declaration to the AA in appropriate cases.
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the case management application where the case team member is requested to
reflect on the possible existence of a conflict of interest and to tick the
appropriate box ("possible conflict of interest" or "no possible conflict of
Horizontal tasks (HTs) are also covered on an "opt in" basis, except for filing
HTs which are excluded from the CoI module by definition. Managers who
create new HTs have the option to signal to Unit R1 whether they wish the CoI
module to be included. The inclusion of the CoI module in HTs is only be
possible once, at the creation of a new HT.
The case members who fail to tick a CoI box in a case management application
will not be active in the case team. This implies that s/he will receive no e-mail
alerts for new documents, will not appear on reports, will have no access to
hidden cases and/or protected documents, and will receive no "work-load
points" for mergers. It is therefore in the best interest of staff to act without delay
once they receive the alert.
The application sends automatic periodic alerts to the case members and the case
managers until the relevant box is ticked. The ECO is automatically notified if
case-handlers declare a possible conflict of interest.
Further instructions on the in-house conflict of interest forms are given in the
case management applications.
In addition, all DG COMP staff, including those not working on cases, are
required to acknowledge yearly their awareness of ethical and, in particular,
conflict of interest rules. This is done automatically the first time they connect to
the DG's Intranet after the new year.
Furthermore, participants in antitrust and merger inspections are required to
make a specific inspection CoI declaration
Case managers must ensure that inspectors make the declaration before they
participate in inspections. Normally this is done immediately when an inspector
finds out which company s/he is going to inspect (in principle 2-3 days before
the inspection when s/he receives the briefing file). Should a possible conflict of
interest arise, an assessment on a case by case basis should be done by the
Appointing Authority to determine if such a conflict really exists and, if so, what
measures should be taken (e.g. changing the inspector to another team, not
participating in the inspection). In most cases the risk of a CoI will be remote but
it is important to address possible CoI issues at an early stage rather than being
confronted with them during the inspection itself.
18 The message is as follows: "I hereby declare that, to the best of my knowledge, I have no possible
conflict of interest with this case. If it is unclear to me whether I have a possible conflict of interest or
not, or if my situation changes during the case, I will immediately consult the case manager. (see DG
COMP's Code on Ethics and Integrity for guidelines)"
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4.2. Declaring possible conflicts of interests to the Appointing Authority
While the case- and inspection-specific declaration forms are meant to identify
possible conflict of interest situations and allow for measures at an early stage to
remove possible conflicts, it should be kept in mind that it is ultimately the
Director General who is responsible for deciding whether there is a conflict of
interest situation within the meaning of Article 11a of the Staff Regulations and,
if so, whether the staff member concerned may continue to deal with the matter
and under what conditions.
Indeed, pursuant to Article 11a of the Staff Regulations19
, staff members must
inform the AA20
whenever they deal with matters in which, directly or
indirectly, they have any personal interest such as to impair their independence.
Where it is considered that there is a potential risk that the independence of staff
might be impaired, a specific CoI declaration form has to be filled in and sent to
The staff member can also propose, in that form, measures to avoid
any conflict of interest arising.This form has to be signed by the staff member's
hierarchy, who are required to give their opinion on whether personal interest
could impair their independence. Staff members may wish to consult the ECO
for advice. Once signed, the staff member will retain the original. A copy must
in any event be sent by COMP/R/2 to HR/B/1 where it will be put into the
The procedure is different for SNEs. Instead of informing the AA in case of a
potential conflict of interest they are required to inform their Head of Unit
(preferably by e-mail) who has the power to remove the national expert from the
5. MAIN POTENTIAL CONFLICT OF INTEREST SITUATIONS IN DG COMP
5.1. General remarks
Most of DG COMP's staff is directly or indirectly involved in competition
investigations. To avoid a (perceived) conflict of interest it is important that staff
is not assigned to cases in which they have a personal interest which could be
perceived as impairing their independence.
19 For temporary and contract staff Article 11a applies by analogy (see para 7 ab
20 In this case the AA is the Director General for Competition in respect of all grades. The AA for the
Director General for Competition is the Member of the Commission responsible for Human Resources.
See also para 11
The Article 11a Staff Regulations declaration form is available at:
22 See Article 7 (1) d of Commission Decision of 12.11.2008 laying down rules on the secondment to the
Commission of national experts and national experts in professional training, C(2008) 6866 final.
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The most relevant situations in DG COMP in this regard are personal interests
deriving from financial interests in companies involved in the competition
investigation; activities of a staff member's spouse/relative/friend who might be
involved in the case on behalf of the company concerned, a law firm,
consultancy firm, government body deciding on aid, etc; or because the staff
member has been involved in the case in his/her previous employment. These
situations are explained in further detail hereinafter.
5.2. Holding of financial interests
One of the most common causes of conflict of interest is the holding of financial
interests. Article 11a (1) of the Staff Regulations forbids the staff from dealing
with any matter in which they have a financial interest.
A conflict of interest might arise, for example, if you were to handle a case or otherwise take part in the
decision-making process (including through consultation) involving a company in which you
have a financial interest.
Article 11a (3) of the Staff Reglations (see para 24)
refers to all kind of financial
interests which can include, for instance, any form of individual holding in
company capital or in collective investment funds (investing in shares, bonds,
etc. ) or pension schemes.
As the Article only refers to an “interest of such kind or magnitude that might
impair one's independence in the performance of duties”, the Commission
enjoys a certain margin of discretion to determine whether the financial interest
is substantial enough to give rise to a conflict of interest, depending on the
circumstances of each case.
The assessment whether a conflict of interest exists inevitably requires a case-
by-case approach. Some of the factors that may have to be taken into account
• The nature of the financial interest. For example, deposits, especially
guaranteed deposits, would seem to entail a more remote possibility of
influencing the staff member than shares or other forms of investments.
• The effect that the Commission decision may potentially have on that interest.
For example, the effect of a Commission decision to allow or to prohibit state
aid to a bank may have little or no influence on a guaranteed deposit but may
affect significantly the value of other investments in the bank.
• The magnitude of the financial interest. Obviously, the higher the value of the
financial interest the bigger the risk of undue influence; no fixed thresholds
are established and this again requires a case-by-case assessment.
• The role of the member of staff in the decision-making process in the case.
• The risk of a perceived conflict, even if it is not considered to be an actual or
potential conflict in view of the criteria above. In this regard the priority of the
case could also be taken into account (dealing with priority cases in sensitive
sectors, in which the media is very active, is more likely to give the
appearance of a conflict of interest, even if it does not exist, than dealing with
non-priority complaint in a non-sensitive sector).
In cases which do not appear to raise a clear-cut CoI situation, operational
may also have to be taken into account, such as whether the staff
member is indispensable to handle the case or whether it could also be done by
another colleague, taking account of language requirements, experience, etc.
Example 1: If you only have invested €1000 in a fund and the company concerned represents
only 0,5% of its portfolio, there is obviously a low likelihood that such holding might reasonably
be seen as influencing your decision. However, if the amounts are significantly higher, or if you
own direct shares in the relevant company, there might be a risk that your independence be
Example 2: If you have a bank account opened under the general rules of the bank and which is
guaranteed by the public authorities then, unless there are special circumstances, working on a
case in which this bank is involved would not be a conflict of interest situation. Special
circumstances in this regard could be for instance a situation where your bank account is not
guaranteed, you have negotiated a special interest rate with the bank which may be affected
depending on the outcome of the matter on which you are working or where under the particular
circumstances there is a risk that the state guarantee of the account may not cover the amount in
5.3. Previous employment
Conflicts of interest might arise also from previous employment of DG COMP
staff. In order to address such issues adequately, upon recruitment, Unit R2 asks
newcomers to fill-in an ethics questionnaire and informs recruiting units of
possible conflict of interest situations. The screening should include information
on ethics obligations undertaken by new staff vis-à-vis
their previous employers.
The findings of the screening will be presented to the Head of the recruiting unit
so that s/he can ensure that conflicts of interest in regard of the previous
employment of the staff member are avoided. Where there is an ethics issue that
is clear from the CV or the information voluntarily provided by the candidate at
interviews, including with the panel, the interviewers have to inform the Head of
Staff must respect the ethical rules undertaken vis-à-vis
their previous employers
and promptly inform their HoU and Director thereof. The Director concerned
should ensure that the staff members concerned are not assigned to cases which
may bring them in conflict with the conditions and obligations undertaken by
them towards their former employers.
As a basic ethical rule staff should not deal with pending cases where it has been
involved in for a previous employer. There is no cut-off date, the rule applies as
long as the case is pending (including before the General Court and the Court of
Justice). A case by case assessment shall be done taking into account the level of
involvement in the case. To facilitate the assessment the new staff member will,
without prejudice to possible professional secrecy obligations imposed by
his/her previous employer, produce, together with the ethics questionnaire, a list
containing all pending EC competition cases where s/he has had direct
responsibility or has been directly involved to his/her HoU and Director. This
rule also applies to former self-employed individuals (e.g. lawyers, consultants,
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Staff which was previously dealing with EU competition cases can in principle
also deal with new cases handled with by their previous employer to the extent
that they were not involved in them before.
There is in principle no reason to apply a distance rule, according to which they
could not be in contact with their previous employer for a certain period of time.
However, the assessment should be done on a case-by-case basis.
5.4. Spouse gainful employment
Since a spouse’s professional activities may also create a conflict of interest, it
should be remembered that Article 13 of the Staff Regulations states: "If the
spouse of an official is in gainful employment, the official shall inform the
appointing authority of his institution. Should the nature of the employment
prove to be incompatible with that of the official and if the official is unable to
give an undertaking that it will cease within a specified period, the appointing
authority shall, after consulting the Joint Committee, decide whether the official
shall continue in his post or be transferred to another post
This obligation is not to be confused with the declaration that staff is expected to
make to PMO relating to the income of the spouse. PMO is only concerned with
possible pecuniary consequences.
Therefore, if the staff member's spouse is in gainful employment s/he must
inform the AA by filling out the appropriate form23
. S/he must provide a
description of her/his duties, a description of her/his spouse/partner’s activities
and information on the links between their respective duties as well as between
his/her employer and the Commission. It can be very relevant to point out the
responsibilities and the post occupied by the staff member's partner/spouse, e.g.
whether s/he is a partner, an associate, a paralegal, etc. (see below paras. 59-61).
The detail to be provided will depend on the staff member's opinion on the
existence of a real or a potential conflict of interest. This form has to be signed
by the superior, who is required to give an opinion on whether the professional
position of staff member's partner could impair her/his independence. While the
staff member will be returned the signed original, a copy must be sent by
COMP/R/2 to HR/B/1 for insertion into the personal file.
This obligation applies also to non-married couples who meet the criteria
provided in Article 1(2)(c) of Annex VII of the Staff Regulations (couples
entitled to household allowance), as such partnerships are treated as married
pursuant to the second subparagraph of Article 1d(1) of the Staff Regulations.
It is also important to underline that the AA must be informed, if necessary,
about changes in the spouse's employment situation and that this obligation
23 The AA for the purposes of Article 13 Staff Regulations is the Director General for Competition in
respect of advisers, heads of units, AD and AST staff. The AA for the Director General and the deputy
Director General, Advisers Hors Classe
, Directors and Principal Advisers is the Director General for
Human Resources and Security. The form "Declaration of a gainful employment of a spouse" (can be
found under: http://raphael.comp.cec.eu.int/intranet/general/index.cfm?action=view&subaction=page&page=20127
applies whatever the nature, the duration or the importance of the gainful
employment of the member staff's spouse. Again, a copy of the duly signed form
must be sent by COMP/R/2 to HR/B/1 for insertion into the personal file.
As a general ethical rule applicable for everybody, staff whose spouse works in a
company should not deal with any cases involving that company (the so-called
The mere fact that a staff member's spouse/partner works in a law firm, a
consultancy or a Member State's administration involved in EC competition or
State aid matters is not as such
a situation that creates a conflict of interest that
requires the staff member concerned to be moved to another post.
However, DG COMP staff whose spouse works in a law firm, consultancy firm,
government body, lobbying firm etc. dealing with EC competition matters
should as a general ethical rule not deal with any cases where they know that
their spouse is involved in. This may imply checking with the spouse whether
s/he is personally involved in a case that the staff member is working on, but this
can of course only be done once the opening (not necessarily the formal
opening) of that case has come in the public domain. Where staff becomes aware
that his or her spouse is working on the same case that person is required to
immediately report this to his/her hierarchy, case manager/Head of Unit and/or
Director, who will have to assess the possible conflict of interest and take
appropriate corrective measures.
The possible conflict of interest arising out of staff members' spouse activities
must be assessed on a case-by-case basis and measures to remove the conflict of
interest have to be proportionate to the risk involved.
Criteria for assessing the existence of a conflict of interest under Article 13 of
the Staff Regulations are for example:
• The competition issue/case at stake and its likely impact on the business of
• The role of the staff member in the decision making process of the case.
• The role of the spouse/partner in the company under investigation, the
likelihood of his/her direct or indirect involvement in the case concerned as
well as whether he or she holds direct financial interest in the firm (e.g. an
• The risk of a perceived conflict, even if it is not considered to be an actual or
potential conflict in view of the criteria above. In this regard the priority of
the case could also be taken into account (dealing with priority cases in
sensitive sectors, in which the media is very active, is more likely to give the
appearance of a conflict of interest, even if it does not exist, than dealing
with non-priority complaints in a non-sensitive sector).
In cases which do not appear to raise a clear-cut CoI situation also operational
may have to be taken into account such as whether the staff member is
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indispensable to do the case or whether it could also be done by another
colleague, taken account of language requirements, experience etc.
Example 1: Spouse working in a law firm. If your spouse works in the Brussels office of a law
firm which also has an office in one of the Member States and if you are dealing with a
competition case in which the latter office of that law firm is involved but not the Brussels office
where your spouse works, then in principle the personal interest you may have in the matter
would seem too remote to have an impact on your independence.
Example 2: Both spouses are working on the same case. If you are working on a case involving
a company in which your spouse is working and you are member of the case team carrying out
the investigation in that company there would seem to be a conflict of interest that would require
you to be removed from the case. This rule applies regardless the responsibilities or position
occupied by your spouse in the company and regardless of whether the spouse is actually
involved in the case.
Example 3: Spouse works in a law firm and holds a direct financial interest in the case. If your
spouse works in a law firm as a partner and although s/he does not deal directly the same case
as you but by reason of the profit-sharing arrangements between the partners holds a direct
financial interest in the case then a conflict of interest may arise.
6. INSIDER DEALING
It goes without saying that DG COMP staff should in no circumstances try to
make a profit or assist others to make a profit by using inside information s/he
comes across in the performance of her/his duties.
Inside information is defined in Directive 2003/6/EC of 28 January 2003 on
insider dealing and market manipulation (market abuse)24
"information of a precise nature which has not been made public, relating,
directly or indirectly, to one or more issuers of financial instruments or to one or
more financial instruments and which, if it were made public, would be likely to
have a significant effect on the prices of those financial instruments or on the
price of related derivative financial instruments."25
Unlike conflicts of interest, insider dealing does not require any influence over
recommendations or decisions. Indeed, a staff member would be guilty of insider
dealing if s/he were to use, or cause others to use, directly or indirectly, inside
information which comes to his/her knowledge within DG COMP (either in the
course of his/her work or by accident) in order to make a personal profit through
trading in securities of a firm or to encourage third persons to do so.
Insider dealing is a criminal offence in most national laws. For instance, the
Belgian Act on insider dealing of 4 December 1990 as amended by the Act of 6
April 1995, which transposes Council Directive 89/592/EEC coordinating
regulations on insider dealing into national law, is also applicable to EU
24 OJ L 96 of 12.4. 2003, p. 16.
25 Article 1(1) of the Directive. See also the other relevant provisions of the Directive concerned in
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officials. It applies to actions performed in Belgium or in another country
where those actions relate to securities listed on a stock exchange in Belgium or
on a regulated market in another Member State. The Belgian Act lays down
penal sanctions for infringements.26
In the light of the above, in regard of the sensitive nature of the information
received by DG COMP and so as to be able to trace back information flows in
case of allegation of insider dealing, measures are taken to ensure, under specific
circumstances, the traceability of the information. Case managers have thus the
obligation to establish a "who27 knew what and when" document
the following periods of time: in antitrust, all the preparatory phase of the
inspections and the setting of the level of fines until the second Advisory
Committee on fines takes place and, in mergers, all the pre-notification stage of
sensitive 'not yet-announced' acquisition plans. Further details on these forms
can be found in the Manual of Procedures concerned29
7. GIFTS / HOSPITALITIES / DECORATION AND HONOUR
A gift is understood to mean:
A sum of money or any physical object; or,
The possibility to participate for free in events which are open to the
public or are private in nature, are only accessible in return for payment
and represent a certain value (such as complimentary tickets for sports
events, concerts, theatre, conferences, etc.); or,
Any other advantage with a pecuniary value such as transport costs.
Article 11(2) of the Staff Regulations requires Commission staff not to accept
gifts, favours or donations
from any source outside the institution without
obtaining prior permission from the Director General, who acts as Appointing
26 A prison sentence, a fine and a financial penalty representing up to three times the material advantage
derived from the offence.
27 All staff members involved in the case, whatever their function, are concerned.
28 The Who knew what when forms are available at IntraComm Ethics page:
29 Further guidance on security can be found at IntraComm Security page:
30 In respect of some grades the Director General has delegated his function as an appointing authority in
this matter to Directorate R (see Annex 2 of the Code and para 11
above.). For the Director General
himself the AA is the Member of the Commission responsible for Human Resources.
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Staff is advised to be particularly careful when gifts/favours/donations are
offered in relation to her/his work at the Commission. As a general rule, it is
recommended to decline all such offers that have more than merely symbolic
value (such as diaries, calendars, small desk items, etc)31
. Any offers entailing a
sum of money, regardless of the amount, must be directly refused.
Although prior permission by the Appointing Authority is presumed to be
granted for gifts worth up to € 50
, staff members may not consider themselves at
liberty to accumulate a number of gifs below this threshold.
Explicit prior permission by the Appointing Authority is required for gifts worth
between € 50 and € 150
. If the staff member wants to accept them, s/he must
apply for permission from the Director General, who acts as Appointing
via the Ethics Module in Sysper2.
In deciding on whether to authorise the gift/favour the AA will consider the
intention behind offering the gift, favour or donation, the possible consequences
for the Commission's interests, the nature of the gift, the nature of the source
offering the gift etc. . In light of this information and if s/he considers that there
is no ethical issue the AA may authorise her/him to accept the gift/ favour if its
value is less than or equal to € 150
Authorisation for gifts with a value of more than € 150 will be refused by the
AA. In this case or if a gift is unwanted, it can be returned to the source, if this
is feasible or given to the institution (to the OIB, which will give it to an
appropriate charitable organisation, or to the COMP library in case of a work-
For example, invitations from third parties to attend a major sporting event or other trips or
excursions, as well as invitations for holidays, boat trips, etc., must be categorically refused,
unless their acceptance would be clearly in the interest of the service, following prior
authorisation of the management.
Hospitality offers are considered to be one particular type of favour. Hospitality
is defined as an offer of food, drink, accommodation and/or entertainment from
any source outside the institution.
Permission is presumed to be granted if the lunch/dinner is strictly linked to the
function of the official who participates in agreement with his/her hierarchy and
is not prejudicial to the interests of the Commission.
31 Information from DG HR
is available on the IntraComm website:
nd specifically on gifts at:
32 In respect of some grades the Director General has delegated his function as an appointing authority in
this matter to Directorate R (see Annex 2 of the Code).
Permission is also presumed to be granted, in accordance with Art. 11 of the
Staff Regulations for occasional offers of simple meals, refreshments, snacks,
Explicit prior permission by the AA is required in other cases than the one
mentioned in § 78 and 79 or if there is a doubt as to the appropriateness of
accepting or refusing a hospitality offer.
During a mission, the staff member who has been instructed to attend an event
as part of her/his work can accept hospitality offers as long as they do not go
beyond what is reasonable and necessary for such an event. Mission orders
and/or expense claims must of course include details of any hospitality offered
so that the hierarchy can take its decision in full knowledge of all relevant
elements and so that appropriate deductions may be made from mission
Example: You are sent on a mission in another country to attend a conference on Competition
law and the organisers of the event send a minibus to the airport to pick you up. You can accept
the favour because in any event transportation from the airport to your hotel or the venue where
the conference will take place is strictly necessary for your mission and does not appear
Whatever is being accepted as hospitality must remain strictly necessary to
better achieve the professional objectives in the interest of the service. Full
transparency should be ensured vis-à-vis
the hierarchy, and guidance should
always be sought when in doubt.
Example: Thus, it would for example be inappropriate to accept invitations to leisure events
offered in the framework of a conference (e.g. an invitation to a sporting event, a boat trip or
other favour that bears no relationship with the mission of the staff member) without at least
requesting prior formal authorisation to accept it. Financing of the participation of a
companion, who is not a Commission official, is clearly not in the interest of the Commission
and this offer should in any case be rejected.
Particular prudence is necessary in sensitive situations. For instance, staff
members participating in inspections should whenever possible inform their
immediate superior or team leader on an ad hoc basis when hospitality is offered
during such missions.
The question in all such situations should be whether accepting the hospitality
could compromise –or perceived as compromising- the staff member's
autonomy, independently of its value. If case of uncertainty, an advice can be
asked to the hierarchy or directly to the ECO and if the staff member is not in a
position, given the context, to consult them it is strongly recommend, if possible,
to decline diplomatically, while referring to the obligations the staff is subject to.
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7.3. Honours and decorations
Honours and decorations cannot be accepted without having received
authorisation in advance, except for services rendered before the official
appointment or during special leave for military or other national service33
8. POLITICAL ACTIVITIES, STANDING FOR PUBLIC OFFICE AND OUTSIDE POLITICAL
8.1. Political activities and outside political pressure
In principle there are no obstacles for staff to take part in the life of a political
party insofar as the staff member respects the requirements of the Staff
Regulations to have a neutral and independent position in the execution of his or
her duties and the other relevant provisions of the Staff Regulations (see notably
Articles 11, 17, 17a).
Although Staff Regulations require officials to take a neutral and independent
position in the execution of their duties, a staff member could be under pressure
from political groups or a national government. It is the staff member's duty to
inform the hierarchy about such situations and to take the necessary measures to
avoid that her/his independence is threatened or compromised.
8.2. Standing for public office
If an official, contract or temporary agent34
wishes to stand for public office,
such as standing as a candidate in municipal, regional, national or European
elections, s/he must notify the AA35, a
s stipulated in Article 15 of the Staff
Regulations. After the Director-General has given his/her opinion, the AA will
decide whether, in the period up to the date of the election or appointment, the
staff member must make a request for leave on personal grounds (CCP), take
annual leave, can be authorised to work part-time or can continue to work with
no change of the working hours.
The performance of duties stemming from the tenure of public office is a special
case in that there is no obligation to request authorisation. For officials,
temporary or contract agents who have been elected or appointed to public
of the Staff Regulations establishes the obligation to inform
33 The form "Authorisation to accept a decoration or an honour can be found at :
34 No provision of Commission Decision of 12.11.2008 provides for the possibility that a SNE stands for
public office. This possibility is therefore not open to SNEs.
35 The AA in this case is the Director General of DG HR. The from "Candidature for public office" can
be found at : http://raphael.comp.cec.eu.int/intranet/general/index.cfm?action=view&subaction=page&page=20127
36 Article 15 of the Staff Regulations applies mutatis mutandis
to temporary and contract agents (see para
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the AA37, w
hich will decide whether and under what modalities the official may
continue to discharge his/her duties. The AA will decide whether s/he must
make a request for leave on personal grounds38
(CCP), take annual leave, can be
authorised to work part-time or can continue to work with no change to his/her
Officials, temporary and contract agents that are elected or appointed to public
office and who continue working are subject to the obligations that normally
apply to officials (and mutatis mutandis
to contract and temporary agents). Any
payment made to an official, contract or temporary agent in that connection shall
not count toward the ceiling for net remuneration of € 4.50039
9. FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND PROFESSIONAL SECRECY
9.1. General principles
All staff enjoy a right to freedom of expression as recognised by Article 17a of
the Staff Regulations, which states that “an official40 has the right to freedom of
expression, with due respect to the principles of loyalty and impartiality
right, however, should be understood together with the obligations laid down in
Articles 11,12 and 17 of the Staff Regulations. These establish, respectively, the
“duty of loyalty to the Union” and the obligation to refrain from “any action or
behaviour that might reflect adversely upon (their) position”.
Article 17 of the Staff Regulations establishes the obligation for officials,
contract and temporary agents41
to refrain from “any unauthorised disclosure
of information received in the line of duty
, unless that information has already
been made public or is accessible to the public.” Therefore, whether in public or
in private, the staff member should not disclose any information s/he has come
across in the performance of her/his duties unless s/he has received authorisation
to do so and/or is sure that such information is already publicly available. S/he
should of course also refrain from disclosing, whether intentionally or not, any
confidential information received in the line of duty, whether it concerns
37 The AA in this case is the Director-General HR. The form to be filled out can be found at:
This form has to be sent to Directorate B of DG HR
38 Where temporary or contract staff member holds a contract for fixed period, the duration of leave on
personal grounds in order to take up public office shall be limited to the remainder of the term of the
contract (see Article 11 and 81 of CEOS).
39 See Article 3 Commission Decision on outside activities and assignments. Also see para 140
10.4 "Receiving payments for outside activities"
40 This applies mutatis mutandis
also to contact and temporary agents (see para 7
and footnote 6
The same rule applies to SNEs by virtue of Article 7(1)f of Decision of 12.11.2008 (see footnote 7).
41 The same rule in substance applies to SNEs by virtue of Article 7(1)e of the Decision of 12.11.2008
(see footnote 7
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business secrets of a company or details of the internal decision-making
processes of the Commission42.
The right to freedom of expression is a fundamental right but does not constitute
an unfettered prerogative and is subject to certain limitations
. A staff member is
free to publicly express her/his personal opinions, even if they are critical of
decisions taken by the Commission43
. However, s/he, when expressing her/his
views in public (whether in written or oral format), should make it absolutely
clear that these are her/his personal opinions,
do not necessarily reflect the
views of the Commission and/or DG COMP44
and may not cause any prejudice
to the interests of the European Union45
. This will have to be assessed on the
basis of specific, objective factors.46
Relevant factors may be for example the
lapse of time (obviously differing opinions on issues which are still pending
(including before the Courts) are likely to seriously prejudice the legitimate
interests of the Union), the forum in which the personal opinions are made (e.g.
academic journal v/ press), the position of the person concerned in the institution
and her/his involvement in the subject matter.
Even when the staff member is simply expressing opinions as a private
individual it is worth considering in this regard that those views can carry a
certain weight with those hearing them, who will probably see her/him as a
Commission official as well as a private individual. 47
The principles of loyalty and dignity require that the staff member should not
make demeaning or offensive statements that impugn the honour of the persons
or institutions against whom they were made.48
42 Further guidance on security can be found at IntraComm Security page:
43 See, for instance, Case T-82/99 Cwik v Commission
 ECR-SC I-A-155 and II-713, paragraph 58,
upheld in appeal (case C-340/00).
44 When publishing a text on a professional or EU matter in their private capacity all staff (regardless of
their position) should use a disclaimer.
45 See, for instance, Case C-274/99 P Connolly v Commission
 ECR I-1611, paragraphs 47 and 57.
46 Case C-340/00 Cwik v Commission , paragraphs 19 and 23.
47 The CFI has taken three factors into consideration when assessing the risk of an official's personal
opinion being mistaken for that of the institution employing him: i) whether the institution has publicly
and clearly expressed its view on the question; ii) the (management) responsibilities of the official
expressing a personal view; and iii) the addressees of the lecture/publication containing the personal
view (specialist readership being likely to be well informed about the views of the institution). See
Case C-340/00 Cwik v Commission
, paragraphs 25 and 26.
48 The duty of loyalty requires not only that the official concerned refrains from conduct which reflects on
his position and is detrimental to the respect due to the institution and its authorities (see, for example,
the judgment in Williams I, paragraph 72, and Case T-293/94 Vela Palacios v ESC  ECR-SC I-
A-297, II-893, paragraph 43), but also that he must conduct himself, particularly if he is of senior
grade, in a manner that is beyond suspicion in order that the relationship of trust between that
institution and himself may at all times be maintained (N v Commission, paragraph 129). (Case C-
274/99 P Connolly v Commission, paragraph 128).
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The obligation of loyalty means that the staff member should avoid creating
confusion or uncertainty when making public statements (see para 110
contacts with the media). Therefore, the staff member should avoid discussing
any case or policy matter which is still at the preparation or discussion
stage and on which the Commission has not adopted an official position.
These rules also apply when making use of social networks49.
In view of the serious consequences that a breach of Article 17 could carry for
the Commission’s reputation, cases of unauthorised disclosure of information
not yet made public concerning any aspect of DG COMP work, whether
intentional or not, will be investigated and may, ultimately, lead to disciplinary
action and/or financial claims for serious neglect, in application of the relevant
procedures (see section 14 below).
9.2. Publications and speeches on EU-related matters: obligation to inform the
AA in advance
Article 17a(2) of the Staff Regulations creates an obligation for officials50
contract or temporary agents51
to inform the AA52
of their intention to publish or
have published any matter dealing with the work of the Union53.
The mere fact
of issuing a publication concerned with the work of the Union, without first
notifying to the AA, constitutes an infringement of Article 17a of the Staff
The official, contract or temporary agent shall inform55 the AA before
the matter dealing with the work of the Union. If the AA is able to
demonstrate that the publication is liable to seriously prejudice the legitimate
interest of the Union, the AA shall inform the official, contract or temporary
49 Social Media Guidelines for all staff – Administrative Notice n° 34/2011
50 In this context, do not forget that an official on CCP does not lose his status as an official during the
period of leave and therefore remains subject to the obligations incumbent upon every official (see, for
instance, Case C-274/99 P Connolly v Commission
 ECR I-1611.)
51 See para 7
52 The AA is the Director General (except for the Director General for whom the AA is the Member of
the Commission responsible for Human Resources). In respect of some grades, the Director General
has delegated the function of appointing authority in this matter to the Director and Head of Unit
responsible for Human Resources (see Annex 2 of the Code).
53 This should be understood to include any matter dealing with the work of the European Union.
Publication of materials on EU matter may be considered also an external activity (see para 125
54 If no publication is envisaged there is no need to ask for authorisation of the AA but in so far as the
speech relates to a professional or EU matter and is drafted within the scope of the staff member's
duties, it must be approved by the DG COMP management (see table attached to this Code).
55 The form can be found at:
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agent within 30 working days of receipt of the information. If no such decision is
notified within the specified period, the AA shall be deemed to have had no
objections. Although these rules may appear to require a mere notification of the
staff's intention to publish, the staff member cannot publish if the AA gives a
negative opinion. Thus in practice the procedure introduces an authorisation
The rules on publications apply also to speeches where they are intended to be
published. Thus if a staff member gives a speech and provide third parties with
the written text of the speech delivered (or the slides of the presentation) s/he
should ask whether there is a possibility that it may be published. If the
organisers state that they intend to publish the speech then s/he should either
refuse to provide them with the text or inform the AA in accordance with the
procedure set out above.
The rules applicable to SNEs in respect of publications are in substance the
same. The relevant provision is Article 7(1)f of Commission Decision of
owever, SNEs are required to notify their Head of Unit who has
the power to issue a decision objecting to publication.
It must be born in mind that a publication on EU or other professional matters
may at the same time constitute and external activity, notably when it is paid or
performed under contract (see para 125
Even if a staff member has been instructed to draft a text as part of her/his work
by her/his manager, if published under the staff member's name, an authorisation
of the Appointing Authority is needed.
In addition, according to Article 18(1) of the Staff Regulations, "All rights in
any writings or other work done by any official in the performance of his duties
shall be the property of the Commission to whose activities such writings or
work relate. The Commission shall have the right to acquire compulsorily the
copyright in such works."57
Contact the CPI unit to arrange for the copyright
For example, if you are instructed by your Head of Unit or Director to write an article for the
"Competition Policy Newsletter" on a recent case you have worked on, the copyright of this
article belongs to the EU.
It is also worth noting that royalties received for publications to which the AA
raised no objections are not subject to the net annual ceiling of € 4.500 that
applies to work a staff member is authorised to undertake outside the
56 See footnote 7
57 Further information available
the OPOCE webpage:
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9.3. Publications and speeches on non EU-related matters: no authorisation to
publish is needed
For publications and speeches on non EU-related matters, no authorisation to
publish is needed.
However, if the publication entitles to receive remuneration,
one must request
an authorisation by filling out a specific form58
If it is considered as an "external activity", notably when it is paid or performed
under contract, a prior authorisation from the AA59
is also needed.
9.4. Contacts with the media
Contacts with the media should be handled carefully by all Commission staff.
This is of specific relevance for DG COMP staff, given the nature of the work
and the immediate consequences that any public statement may have on the
In principle, contacts with the media shall be restricted to the Commissioner's
spokesperson and press officer. Requests for information or statements made
directly to DG COMP should be re-directed to the office of the spokesperson.
Whenever necessary, the spokesperson may re-direct questions from journalists
to staff in DG COMP. AD-level staff may therefore be authorised by their
hierarchy to make statements to the media, for example in the context of an
When participating in conferences or other work-related events, the possibility
of spontaneous requests from the media should be anticipated. A line to take
should be approved by the hierarchy and/or the Spokesperson, except for cases
on which the Commission has already taken a line.
The spokesperson’s office should be kept informed of any contacts with media
on the part of DG COMP staff, whenever these take place, especially in the case
of policy statements on matters still under discussion within the DG or within
the Commission itself. If approached, especially if the request for information is
made on the phone, the staff member should re-direct the question to the
spokesperson. Staff members shall deflect requests by politely but firmly saying,
“I am not in a position to reply to your question. I suggest you contact the
Commissioner’s spokesperson at ….”.
When making a public statement, the staff member is acting de facto
spokesperson for the Commission. Therefore the message should be accurate,
clear and consistent in order to avoid any misinterpretation.
58 The form "Authorisation to accept Remuneration for Publication or Speech" can be found at:
59 See also section 10.4 "Receiving payments for outside activities"
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115. In general, DG COMP officials should respect the following guidelines:
• Any form of contact attempted from the side of the media in whatever form
(e-mail, telephone, casual conversation,…) must be reported to the hierarchy
and should be referred to the Spokesperson Service. Information can only be
supplied with the agreement of the Spokesperson Service, under the control
of the hierarchy, and after informing the CPI.
• Any public announcement of a new policy initiative or provision of new
information to the media or the outside world on ongoing activities and cases
shall be made by the Commissioner, either personally or through a
spokesperson, unless he asks the Director General, or through him other DG
COMP officials to take charge of the task.
• The Directorate General shall keep the spokesperson informed of ongoing
case and policy work which is the subject of public debate and where it is
necessary to put special emphasis on certain messages. The Communication
Officer shall provide the spokesperson with background information
necessary in this respect.
• The spokesperson will inform the Director General or his staff, as well as the
Commissioner and the Cabinet, of any issue arising from a draft statement or
a response to a request from the media which might have significant policy
9.5. Relations with citizens
All staff members are at the service of EU citizens.
The Code of Good Administrative Behaviour lays down several rules regarding
written correspondence, phone calls and e-mails60
For written correspondence, a substantive answer or at least a holding response
should be provided within 15 working days. When replying, the language of the
citizen must be used, provided it is one of the 23 EU languages61
When answering the phone
, the staff member should identify her(him)self and
treat the caller in a courteous manner. When dealing with enquiries within the
staff member's responsibility, it has to be checked whether the information is
already accessible to the public. If it is not, it is important to ask the hierarchy if
it can be made public or to explain to the citizen why it is not possible to
disclose the information. For subjects outside the staff member's competence,
s/he should redirect the call to the appropriate service.
61 As stated in the Commission's administrative agreements with Spain and the UK, any correspondence
to the Commission written in one of the additional languages recognised on all or part of their territory
(Basque, Catalan and Galician in Spain; Scottish Gaelic and Welsh in the UK), should first be
translated (in Spanish and English respectively) by the bodies designated by the Member States
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should be treated as promptly as a phone call, but if by their nature they
are equivalent to a letter, they should be handled according to the guidelines on
9.6. Relations with Interest groups – lobbies
Staff members have a wide discretion in deciding whom to meet, and the
Commission should remain an open, accessible institution, on the basis of the
important principle of equality of treatment.
However, staff members are advised to refuse any invitation from interest
representatives which could put the institution in a delicate situation. In any
case, they should be transparent with their hierarchy whenever they are in
contact with lobbyists.
Staff members are also advised to document and record, where possible, any
substantive contact and how it may affect Commission policy (information
received and given).
When a staff member is approached by unregistered interest representatives, s/he
should invite them to sign up to the Register for Interest Representatives.
10. OUTSIDE ACTIVITIES
10.1. General rules
Article 12b of the Staff Regulations establishes an obligation to obtain
permission before engaging in any activity, whether paid or unpaid, outside
This obligation applies irrespective of a distinction
regarding the nature or the importance of the activities concerned.
Detailed rules governing outside activities are laid down in the Commission
Decision on external activities and assignments (hereinafter referred to as “the
These rules are directly applicable to officials and mutatis mutandis
to temporary and contract agents64
and seconded national
62 Prolongation or renewal shall be requested at least two months before the expiration period. See
Commission Decision C(2004) 1597/10 of 28 April 2004, articles 2 and 12.
63 See C(2004) 1597/10 of 28 April 2004. This decision is currently being reviewed by DG HR.
64 See para 7
65 Under Article 7(1)b of Commission Decision of 12.11.2008 (see footnote 7)
SNEs wishing to engage
in an outside activity, whether paid or unpaid, or to carry out any assignment outside the European
Union shall be subject to the Commission's rules on prior authorisation for officials. The Commission
Decision further states that Article 12b of the Staff Regulations and provisions implementing it shall
apply mutatis mutandis.
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Outside activities can be either assignments or outside activities. An assignment
is the taking on of a defined, time-limited task. An outside activity is any
activity, paid or unpaid, that is of an occupational character or otherwise goes
beyond what can reasonably be considered a leisure activity, such as giving lectures
in the framework of university courses or writing a book under a
contract with a publishing house
. For example activities that take up a
significant amount of time may fall under the category outside activity. There are
no clear-cut criteria for distinguishing between assignments and outside
activities. For practical purposes this is not absolutely necessary as the regime to
be applied is in practice the same.
It is important to underline that outside activities are not a priori
negative in this context. Article 12b of the Staff Regulations clearly states that
authorisation shall be denied “only if the activity or assignment in question is
such as to interfere with the performance of the official’s duties or is
incompatible with the interests of the institution
”. The obligations established in
articles 11, 12, 16, 17, 17a 18, 19, and 55 of the Staff Regulations should be kept
in mind in this context.
At a practical level, an outside activity should not:
• be so time consuming
as to impact negatively on staff's work at the
Commission, or constitute a job in itself;
• give rise to any possible appearance of a conflict of interest
or be in some
other way discreditable, so as to risk bringing the Commission into
Furthermore, the amount of the remuneration should be reasonably related to the
amount of work performed or the ordinary remuneration for the same kind of
service or product66.
Normally voluntary work
would be permitted. However, no outside activity or
work may be performed either on the premises of the Commission or during
normal working hours.
Staff are not allowed to carry out any of the following types of work, for
• outside work, whether paid or unpaid, in a "profession"
(such as architect,
lawyer, economist, accountant, IT professional, engineer, interpreter, doctor,
translator, consultant etc);
• work in or for private companies
, even if it is unpaid and the role is
merely nominal (such as non-executive director, unpaid adviser, etc.);
or other pedagogical work, whether paid or not, for more than
100 hours per academic year
, unless your Appointing Authority, after
66 See also para140
on receiving payments for external activities.
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consulting the Director-General for Human Resources and Security, deems
such work beneficial to the Commission.
10.2. Drafting publications and speeches (EU or non-EU related)
Drafting texts (whether books, chapters of a book, articles, speeches, etc.) on
whatever topics may in particular constitute an external activity
• you will be paid
• you draft the text under a contract
• when the drafting takes a significant amount of your time
If a staff member drafts articles occasionally (regardless of the topic) and neither
receives remuneration for that nor is the drafting done under contract then that
would normally be considered a leisure activity. However, if s/he signs a
contract with a publishing house to regularly write and submit texts that may
constitute an outside activity.
If a staff member undertakes to draft a publication that constitutes an outside
activity and if the publication is on EU matters, apart from the authorisation for
an outside activity, s/he will also have to notify the AA 30 days before
publication (see para 99).
If case of doubts, the staff member is invited to consult the ECO who will assess
the particular situation. The criteria given in para 133
are not exhaustive and the
assessment is always conducted on a case-by-case basis.
10.3. Procedure for asking authorisation
If you are in active service and wish to perform an outside activity (e.g. accept
an assignment, or engage in an external activity) – such as giving speeches67
participating as lecturer in a conference or course, or writing an article68
whether or not you are offered a fee and where the activity in question is not part
of a mission or the staff member's normal work, s/he should introduce two
months before the start of the external activity
her/his request via the Ethics
module in Sysper 2.
A permission granted under Article 12b is valid for a maximum of one year from
the date of the decision, or a lesser period, which will be stated in the decision.
If the staff member wishes to extend or renew his or her permission a new
67 Giving an occasional speech does not constitute an external activity. However, giving speeches on a
regular basis may be considered an external activity. Giving regular speeches under a contract is
certainly an external activity.
68 See also para 99,
above "Publications and speeches on EU-related matters: obligation to
inform the AA in advance"
. Publications on any matter dealing with the work of the EU will need to be
notified (in practice authorised) under the freedom of expression rules.
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request must be submitted. Prolongation or renewal shall be requested at least
two months before the expiration period.
Each case shall be assessed on its own merits with regard to the type of activity
proposed. Permission may be refused if work staff members will be performing
or the office they will be holding are liable to undermine their independence or
prejudice the work of the EU.
10.4. Receiving payments for outside activities
It is not prohibited to receive payment for an outside activity, as long as
authorisation has been granted and the limits set in the Commission’s Decision
. The maximum annual ceiling for net remuneration
any fees, which can be received in connection with all assignments or outside
activities combined is € 4.500
. Any amount in excess of this should be passed to
the Commission. Reimbursement of costs (for example transportation costs),
royalties for publications and remuneration for exercising a public office70
not be taken into account for this purpose71
. The staff member must also apply
for authorisation to receive any prize or award linked to an assignment or
10.5. Special regime for missions (speeches, presentations, conferences)
Activities such as giving speeches, making presentations or participating in
conferences, when carried out in the framework of a mission
, are not
considered outside activities in the sense of Article 12b of the Staff
Mission orders are signed by the authorising officer (the authorising officers are
the Directors; for Directors and staff above the level of Directors the authorising
officer is the Director General). The authorising officer must check that there are
no potential conflicts of interest and confirm accordingly on the mission order74
However, if the text of a speech or presentation made during a mission is to be
published, it is compulsory under Article 17a of the Staff Regulations to inform
the AA (see section 9.2
69 Commission Decision C(2004) 1597/10 of 28 April 2004, article 9.
70 See Article 3 of Commission Decision on outside activities and assignments C(2004) 1597/10.
71 Commission Decision C(2004) 1597/10 of 28 April 2004, article 9.
72 Article 10 of the Commission Decision C(2004) 1597/10 of 28 April 2004 states that “permission shall
only be refused if the acceptance of the prize or award is incompatible with the interests of the
institution or could impair the independence of the official”.
73 For publication of a speech carried out in the framework of a mission you will need to notify your AA
under Article 17a (see para 104).
74 See Commission Decision of 18.11.2008 C (2008) 6215 final General implementing provisions
adopting the Guide to missions for officials and other servants of the European Commission.
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Currently Article 4 of the Commission Decision on outside activities and
assignments specifically forbids all staff from accepting any payment offered in
exchange for work done in the framework of a mission. However, according to
this Commission decision staff should ask for the costs of the mission
(accommodation, transport) to be reimbursed by the organizer.75
Against this background DG COMP advises its staff, where they participate in a
conference which is considered to be in the interest of the DG and authorised in
the context of a mission, to in principle ask for a reimbursement of the costs by
. Although normally in this type of missions this does not raise any
conflict of interest, where accepting reimbursement of the costs could
reasonably lead to a presumption of bias or loss of independence staff should not
ask, and if offered should refuse reimbursement of the costs by the organizer. In
assessing whether this may be the case the following criteria may be used:
• the identity of the organizer
(e.g. perceived conflict of interest situations
may arise where the organiser is a law firm, lobbyist or an undertaking
involved in pending competition cases. Even if participation in the
conference may in certain circumstances be in the interest of the DG,
acceptance of reimbursement of the costs may lead to a perceived conflict of
interest. However, if the organiser is an independent body such as university,
institute, etc. then normally reimbursement of the costs would not raise a
conflict of interest);
• the purpose of the meeting
(discussion of general policy issues or concrete
or discussion of concrete pending cases);
• the attendance
of the meeting (event open to the public or participants pre-
selected by the organizers);
• the monetary value
of the travel expenses offered by the organiser (of
course costs of private companions, etc. should not be reimbursed by the
• the number of reimbursements
made to the same official by the same
organiser in a given year.
At times, it may be unclear whether an invitation to give a speech or make a
presentation outside the Commission should be considered a mission or not.
Disseminating information about the Commission’s work in the area of
competition policy is an important aspect of DG COMP tasks. However, the
number of invitations addressed to a single unit or person may at times be
excessive, or the target audience too small or not important enough for the event
to be worth sending an official on mission.
The staff member should therefore consult with her/his immediate superior
whether to accept an invitation or not. Several factors will be taken into
75 If the organisation responsible for organising the conference offers to reimburse the mission costs such
reimbursement shall be declared and deducted from the mission costs.
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consideration, mainly: the purpose of the event and the nature of the body
organizing it; the interest of the Directorate General and/or the Commission in
participating; and the priority the event has in relation to her/his other
responsibilities and the unit’s workload76. I
n any event there must be an intrinsic
value in the event to pursuing DG COMP policy objectives. Under no
circumstances should there be additional leisure activities linked to the event.
To accept an invitation to participate in an event that the hierarchy does not
consider as a mission, the staff member should request an annual leave. Being
on leave, however, does not relieve the staff from the obligation to request
authorisation to engage in an external activity. Whether on mission or not, the
obligations established in articles 11, 12, 17 and 17a of the Staff Regulations
should be recalled in this context.
11. ETHICAL OBLIGATIONS DURING LEAVE ON PERSONAL GROUNDS (CONGÉ DE
CONVENANCE PERSONNELLE - CCP)
The leave on personal grounds is an administrative status which may be granted
to officials, temporary or contract agents at their own request (see Article 40 of
the Staff Regulations, Article 17 and 91 CEOS). Staff members on CCP are not
former staff, as they are entitled to reintegration into Commission services.
Thus, they are subject to the same obligations as staff members in active
employment, in particular those established in articles 11, 11a, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17
and 17a of the Staff Regulations77.
They are also subject to the relevant
stipulations of Chapter 2 of Commission Decision C(2004) 1597/10 of 28 April
2004 concerning the authorisation of outside activities while on CCP.
Professional activities are allowed during a CCP, but they must be authorised in
advance. Requests to engage in occupational activities, paid or unpaid, made
during a CCP or in connection with a request to take CCP, shall be submitted
through SYSPER2's ethics module.
The general rule is that staff members must provide all relevant information
needed to make an informed decision regarding the possibility of the requested
activity conflicting with the interests of the institution78. T
he DG may make the
permission to engage in occupational activities subject to any conditions which
76 In that context, DG COMP has decided that, in principle, no more than two officials from DG COMP
and the Cabinet of the Commissioner, taken together, should speak at any one event (conferences or
other external events). Therefore, when you receive invitations to conferences and other events, it is
requested that you systematically ask the organisers who else from DG COMP or the Cabinet has been
invited and, if appropriate, to raise the issue with hierarchy (Head of Unit, Director) before giving your
acceptance. The Communications Policy and Inter-institutional Relations Unit (CPI) is in charge of
coordinating attendance to big events/conferences.
77 These provisions concern ethical behaviour for staff both during and after leaving office, conflict of
interest, spouse activity, public office and freedom of expression (publications and speeches).
78 For details, see articles 14 to 17 of the Commission Decision C(2004) 1597/10 of 28 April 2004 for the
rules applicable to officials on CCP.
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are considered necessary to ensure that officials comply with their obligations,.
The decision is taken after consultation of DG HR.
For example, when an official requests CCP to take a job in the private sector working in the
field of competition law (e.g. law firms or consultancy) the authorization decision by DG COMP
after consultation of DG HR may include restrictions concerning work not only on particular
cases, but also specific companies or enterprises. In certain cases, the exercise of the activity
concerned during the CCP can even be refused.
While there may be considerable benefits for DG COMP officials being able to
gain professional experience outside the Commission staff members on CCP
should be especially mindful of their obligations vis-à-vis
the institution, and in
particular as regards avoiding any situation in which a conflict of interest might
Such a conflict may emerge not only during the CCP but also when entering into
negotiations in respect of any professional activity the staff member plans to
undertake while on CCP. It is therefore strongly recommended to discuss with
the hierarchy or with the ECO any negotiations engaged in this period to avoid
any conflict of interest before or during CCP.
Where circumstances could give rise to any possible appearance of a conflict of
interest, either at the negotiation stage or following submission of a formal
request for CCP, the DG reserves the right to adopt, if necessary, internal
instructions concerning the execution of the staff member's day to day duties
during the period preceding your departure.
Examples of such measures may include the modification of your access profile in the case
management applications ("need to know", see the "Guidelines on Security in DG COMP"),
restriction of access to information, modification of case or sector assignment or even transfer to
another post within the DG if the nature of your proposed activity is considered incompatible
with your current position. Each case will be assessed on its own merits and in full compliance
with the principle of proportionality.
Officials should be aware that, while on CCP, they remain subject to Article 17a
of the Staff Regulations which requires them, inter alia
, to notify the Appointing
Authority 30 working days prior to publication (see section 9.2
above for more
Furthermore, according to Article 16(3) of the Commission Decision on outside
activities and assignments, an official on CCP may not participate in meetings or
have contacts of a professional nature with his or her former Directorate General
or service for a period of:
• 1 year
where the official occupied a management function in this Directorate
General or service;
• 6 months
in all other cases.
The purpose of this so-called distance rule is to avoid appearance of conflict of
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12. ETHICAL OBLIGATIONS FOR FORMER STAFF79
12.1. Former officials, contract and temporary agents
Former officials are all those who have definitively left the service (Article 47 of
the Staff Regulations80
), e.g. following resignation, retirement, dismissal or
removal from the post, and those who have been retired in the interests of the
service pursuant to Article 50 of the Staff Regulations.
Former contract and temporary agents are those who have definitely left service
(Articles 47 to 50a of CEOS).
of the Staff Regulations states that former officials, contract or
“continue to be bound by the duty to behave with integrity
and discretion as regards the acceptance of certain appointments”. Moreover,
pursuant to Article 17(1) 83
and (2) of the Staff Regulations, former officials
remain under the obligation to refrain from any unauthorised disclosure of
information received in the line of duty, unless that information has already been
made public or is accessible to the public.
Under Article 339 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the
officials and other servants of the Union are required, even after their duties
have ceased, not to disclose information of the kind covered by the obligation of
professional secrecy, in particular information about undertakings, their business
relations or their costs components.
In view of DG COMP policy area, the situation of former staff members who
left DG COMP and continue their career as lawyers, consultants or lobbyists is
of special interest.
At the occasion of the "exit interviews" which Directorate R organises on a
voluntary basis, leaving staff members are reminded of their obligations under
the Staff Regulations and in particular Articles 16 and 17 (2) thereof.
Should the former member of staff infringe the obligations provided for in
Article 16 of the Staff Regulations in the performance of his/her new duties, be
79 This applies also to former contract and temporary agents (see Articles 11 and 81 of the Conditions of
Employment of other Servants of the European Communities). Former SNEs are subject to Article 7(3)
of Commission decision of 12.11.2008 (see footnote 7)
which stipulates that they continue to have a
duty of loyalty to the Communities and remain bound by the obligation to act with integrity and
discretion after leaving the Commission.
80 Articles 47 and 50 of the Staff Regulations do not apply to contract and temporary agents (see para 7
81 Article 16 of the Staff Regulations applies mutatis mutandis
to contract and temporary staff by virtue
of Article 11 and 81 of CEOS (see para 7 above).
82 For SNEs see para 171
83 Article 17a of the Staff Regulations applies mutatis mutandis
to contract and temporary staff by virtue
of Article 11 and 81 of CEOS.
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it five or ten years after leaving the service, the Commission will be liable to
sanction the failure concerned.
Under Article 16(2) of the Staff Regulations and Article 18 of Commission
Decision on outside activities and assignments if a former official or temporary
agent decides to engage him/herself in a professional activity, whether paid or
unpaid, before the expiry of two years after s/he left the Commission, s/he must
ask for prior authorisation to do so from the AA84.
If a contract agent had access
to sensitive information (such as on competition cases), this rule also applies to
The Commission shall decide and notify the former official, contract or
temporary agent within thirty days whether the intended occupation could
conflict with its legitimate interests86
. If the proposed activity is related to
work the former official, contract or temporary agent has carried out
during the last three years of service and could lead to a conflict of interest,
the AA may either forbid the former official, contract or temporary agent
from undertaking the proposed activity or may impose specific conditions
in the light of the particular circumstances of the case.
Such conditions could
concern – depending on the grade of the former official, contract or temporary
agent and the nature of the former responsibilities - specific cases, undertakings,
economic sector or competition instruments.
In practice, DG HR (the Appointing Authority in this regard) consults
Directorate R of DG COMP and asks for its opinion before imposing any
conditions. In principle, as a general rule, DG COMP considers that former DG
COMP officials should not handle in the course of their new authorised
activities pending competition cases on which they have worked as part of the
case-team or otherwise have been directly responsible for in the last three years
of the performance of their duties at DG COMP87
. To this purpose a list
containing all such cases will be produced. The ECO will keep a copy of this
Such a conflict of interest may emerge before the staff member leaves the
Commission, since the start of negotiations and even, under certain
circumstances, since the intention to enter in such negotiations with a potential
future employer. Once a staff member has informed the AA of her/his intention
84 The AA in this case is the Director General for Human Resources and Security. See also para 11
85 See Article 21(2) of Commission Decision on external activities and assignments.
86 Article 16 of the Staff Regulations states:“(I)f the activity is related to the work carried out by the
official during the last three years of service and could lead to a conflict with the legitimate interests
of the institution, the Appointing Authority may, having regard to the interests of the service, either
(the official) from undertaking it or give its approval subject to any conditions it thinks fit.”
See also articles 18 to 20 of Commission Decision C(2004) 1597/10 of 28 April 2004.
87 As regards the Chief Economist, who is a temporary agent on a three-year contract, it is considered that
he/she should not handle, within the context of the position(s) he/she takes up after his/her departure
from the Commission, cases on which s/he was directly involved during the period of his/her contract.
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to leave the Commission, this situation may require the adoption of internal
instructions as regards her/his daily work at DG COMP.
Since a person assisting a party in a meeting, a hearing or an inspection could
influence its outcome by virtue of his/her previous responsibilities within the
DG, a so-called distance rule
is put in place to avoid appearance of conflict of
interest situations. This means that the staff member may not participate in
meetings or have contacts of a professional nature with his or her former
Directorate General or Service for a period of 1 year where the official occupied
a management function in this Directorate General or service, 6 months in all
In addition, to the extent that it is possible and subject to its awareness of the
situation, DG COMP requires its currently employed staff, to inform
immediately his/her (immediate) superior of his/her potential participation in a
meeting with former members of management (unless it is obvious that the
person concerned left DG COMP such a long time ago that there is no longer
). This will permit to assess accordingly whether a risk exists that the
staff member concerned will find her/himself in a sensitive situation requiring
the adoption of appropriate and proportionate measures as regards the
organisation of the meeting.
DG COMP notes that similar rules on professional knowledge (see para 49
above) and distance apply to staff returning to DG COMP after having worked,
for instance, in a law firm, a national competition authority or a National
Administration (State Aid cases). In this case, a staff member may feel impeded
from dealing with a particular case in DG COMP because of the duty not to use
knowledge gained in a previous position. If this is the case, the staff member
should approach her/his (immediate) superior and request to be assigned to a
12.2. Seconded National Experts
According to Article 7 of Commission Decision of 12.11.2008 (see footnote 7
above) at the end of secondment SNEs shall continue to have a duty of loyalty to
the Union and be bound by the obligation to act with integrity and discretion in
the exercise of new duties assigned to them and in accepting certain post and
13. REPORTING IMPROPRIETIES AND WHISTLEBLOWING
Pursuant Article 22a and b of the Staff Regulations, a staff member is obliged
without delay to report in writing either her/his immediate superior or the
Director-General/Head of service. or, if she/he considers it more appropriate,
directly to the Secretary-General or the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF)
facts discovered in line of duty which point to the existence of serious
88 Apart from the application of the distance rule stricto sensu
, it has to be kept in mind that former
officials should not use or take advantage of fact and information learned about cases during their
service unless those facts are in the public domain or have been obtained legitimately.
irregularities (including fraud, corruption or serious professional wrongdoings).
The whistleblower has to act in good faith.
Without prejudice to articles 22a and 22b of the Staff Regulations and article
60(6) of the Financial Regulation, the following procedure should be
implemented in cases of suspected or alleged irregularities:
• The recipient of the information is obliged to transmit it without delay;
• Where the recipient of the information is in a position of conflict of interest,
s/he shall declare so and recuse her/himself;
• OLAF or the Commission must give the whistleblower within 60 days of
receipt of the information an indication of the period of time that it considers
reasonable and necessary to take appropriate action;
• If no action is taken within that period or if the period of time set is
unreasonable in light of all the circumstances of the case, the whistleblower
may make use of the possibility of external whistleblowing, outside of the
Commission (to the President of either the Council, the Parliament or the
Court of Auditors, or to the Ombudsman). External disclosure is limited to
other EU institutions.
This rule applies to all discovered serious irregularities, illegal activities
including fraud and corruption and serious professional wrongdoings and
particularly those that may be detrimental to the financial interests of the EU.
The ECO can be consulted for guidance and support. This guidance function is
without prejudice to the possibility of staff members to consult their line
manager or a specialised service (such as OLAF, IDOC, DG HR/B1, SG/B4).
Protection for the whistleblower is foreseen:
• Confidentiality of identity - her/his name will not be revealed to the
person(s) potentially implicated in the alleged wrongdoings or to any other
person without a strict need to know;
• Mobility - if the whistleblower wishes to be moved, the Commission will
take reasonable steps to facilitate the move;
• Appraisal and promotion - the whistleblower will suffer no adverse
consequence in this context;
• Penalties for those taking retaliatory action - any form of retaliation
undertaken by a staff member against any person for reporting a serious
irregularity in good faith is prohibited. Disciplinary measures will be taken.
Anonymous reporting is not encouraged.
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Possibility of initial dialogue with
OLAF Fraud Notification System
Guidance and support from Ethics
Other specialised COM services
or with line manager
Option 1: Hierarchy /
Option 2: OLAF
Option of last resort:
14. ADMINISTRATIVE INQUIRIES AND DISCIPLINARY PROCEDURES
It is the interest of DG COMP's staff to be aware of the fact that the infringement
of the obligations spelled out in the Staff Regulations and implementing
provisions can be subject to disciplinary sanctions and, possibly, to personal
Moreover, it should be reminded that the disciplinary system (administrative
inquiries and disciplinary procedures by OLAF or IDOC) applies to any failure
by a member or former member of staff to comply with his/her obligations
the Staff Regulations, whether intentionally or through negligence. This can
include conduct in private life and offences under national criminal law. In that
context, it is important to bring to the attention of DG COMP staff that the
finding of a failure to comply with the obligations of the Staff Regulations is not
subject to the condition that the member of the staff concerned benefited from
this failure or that the said failure caused damage to the Commission89.
89 See Joined Cases T-28/98 and T-241/99 E v Commission
 ECR II-681, paragraph 76.
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As regards the latter aspect, one should be aware that financial liability can also
be claimed when the Commission has suffered damage as a result of the serious
misconduct of an official in the course of, or in connection with, the
performance of his/her duties90
It will be the responsibility of DG COMP hierarchy to refer cases to the AA
(Director General for Competition), the Investigation and Disciplinary Office of
the Commission (IDOC), or the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) where
The Appointing Authority may impose one of the following penalties:
(a) written warning;
(c) deferment of advancement to a higher step for a period of between one
and 23 months;
(d) relegation in step;
(e) temporary downgrading for a period of between 15 days and one year;
(f) downgrading in the same function group;
(g) classification in a lower function group, with or without downgrading;
(h) removal from post and, where appropriate, reduction pro tempore of a
pension or withholding, for a fixed period, of an amount from an
90 See Article 22 of the Staff Regulations.
91 See also Article 22a of the Staff Regulations pursuant to which any official has the duty to inform if he
becomes aware of wrong doing.
Relevant legislation and forms on ethics
• Staff Regulations (see in particular Title II: Rights and Obligations of Officials).
• Conditions of Employment of Other Servants of the European Communities.
• Commission Decision C(2004) 1597/10 of 28 April 2004 on outside activities and assignments.
• Commission Decision of 12.11.2008 laying down rules on the secondment to the Commission of
national experts and national experts in professional training, C(2008) 6866 final: http://myintracomm.ec.europa.eu/hr_admin/en/external_staff/nat_expert/Documents/regime_end_200
Link to the relevant forms:
Delegation of powers to act as an appointing authority in DG
The Director General for Competition has delegated the function of appointing authority
in the following way:
I:\_forum\Ivana F\Delegation of power in DG COMP - 05-10-2010.doc
Relevant provisions of Directive 2003/6/EC of the European
Parliament and of the Council of 28 January 2003 on insider dealing and market
manipulation (market abuse) (OJ L 96/16 of 12 April 2003)
For the purposes of this Directive:
1. ‘Inside information’ shall mean information of a precise nature which has not been made public,
relating, directly or indirectly, to one or more issuers of financial instruments or to one or more financial
instruments and which, if it were made public, would be likely to have a significant effect on the prices of
those financial instruments or on the price of related derivative financial instruments.
In relation to derivatives on commodities, ‘inside information’ shall mean information of a precise nature
which has not been made public, relating, directly or indirectly, to one or more such derivatives and which
users of markets on which such derivatives are traded would expect to receive in accordance with accepted
market practices on those markets.
For persons charged with the execution of orders concerning financial instruments, ‘inside information’
shall also mean information conveyed by a client and related to the client's pending orders, which is of a
precise nature, which relates directly or indirectly to one or more issuers of
financial instruments or to one or more financial instruments, and which, if it were made public, would be
likely to have a significant effect on the prices of those financial instruments or on the price of related
derivative financial instruments.
2. ‘Market manipulation’ shall mean:
a transactions or orders to trade:
— which give, or are likely to give, false or misleading signals as to the supply of, demand for or price of
financial instruments, or
— which secure, by a person, or persons acting in collaboration, the price of one or several financial
instruments at an abnormal or artificial level, unless the person who entered into the transactions or
issued the orders to trade establishes that his reasons for so doing are legitimate and that these
orders to trade conform to accepted market practices on the regulated market concerned;
b transactions or orders to trade which employ fictitious devices or any other form of deception or
(c) dissemination of information through the media, including the Internet, or by any other means, which
gives, or is likely to give, false or misleading signals as to financial instruments, including the
dissemination of rumours and false or misleading news, where the person who made the dissemination
knew, or ought to have known, that the information was false or misleading. In respect of journalists when
they act in their professional capacity such dissemination of information is to be assessed, without
prejudice to Article 11, taking into account the rules governing their profession, unless those persons
derive, directly or indirectly, an advantage or profits from the dissemination of the information in question.
In particular, the following instances are derived from the core definition given in points a, b and (c)
— conduct by a person, or persons acting in collaboration, to secure a dominant position over the supply
of or demand for a financial instrument which has the effect of fixing, directly or indirectly, purchase or
sale prices or creating other unfair trading conditions,
— the buying or selling of financial instruments at the close of the market with the effect of misleading
investors acting on the basis of closing prices,
— taking advantage of occasional or regular access to the traditional or electronic media by voicing an
opinion about a financial instrument (or indirectly about its issuer) while having previously taken positions
on that financial instrument and profiting subsequently from the impact of the opinions voiced
on the price of that instrument, without having simultaneously disclosed that conflict of interest to the
public in a proper and effective way. The definitions of market manipulation shall be adapted so as to
ensure that new patterns of activity that in practice constitute market manipulation can be included.
3. ‘Financial instrument’ shall mean:
— transferable securities as defined in Council Directive 93/ 22/EEC of 10 May 1993 on investment
services in the securities field (1),
— units in collective investment undertakings,
— money-market instruments,
— financial-futures contracts, including equivalent cashsettled instruments,
— forward interest-rate agreements,
— interest-rate, currency and equity swaps,
— options to acquire or dispose of any instrument falling into these categories, including equivalent cash-
settled instruments. This category includes in particular options on currency and on interest rates,
— derivatives on commodities,
— any other instrument admitted to trading on a regulated market in a Member State or for which a
request for admission to trading on such a market has been made.
4. ‘Regulated market’ shall mean a market as defined by Article 1(13) of Directive 93/22/EEC.
5. ‘Accepted market practices’ shall mean practices that are reasonably expected in one or more financial
markets and are accepted by the competent authority in accordance with guidelines adopted by the
Commission in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 17(2).
6. ‘Person’ shall mean any natural or legal person. […]
1. Member States shall prohibit any person referred to in the second subparagraph who possesses inside
information from using that information by acquiring or disposing of, or by trying to acquire or dispose of,
for his own account or for the account of a third party, either directly or indirectly, financial instruments
to which that information relates.
The first subparagraph shall apply to any person who possesses
a by virtue of his membership of the administrative, management or supervisory bodies of the issuer; or
b by virtue of his holding in the capital of the issuer; or
(c) by virtue of his having access to the information through the exercise of his employment, profession or
(d) by virtue of his criminal activities.
2. Where the person referred to in paragraph 1 is a legal person, the prohibition laid down in that
paragraph shall also apply to the natural persons who take part in the decision to carry out the transaction
for the account of the legal person concerned. […]
ANNEX 4 Which authorisation do I need to seek to: draft a text, perform a speech, publish a text, receive payment for a speech or a text?
These rules apply to all Commission statutory staff (civil servants, temporary agents, contractual agents, seconded national experts), including when on leave (on personal grounds, on
parental leave, etc.).
As for other activities, you shall refrain from any action or behaviour which might reflect adversely upon your position.
Drafting a text (including a
Receiving payment for a
Performing a speech
Publishing a text (including a speech)
speech or a text
Speech/text on non-
No authorisation is needed for the
No authorisation is needed to perform a
No authorisation is needed for the
An authorisation is needed
professional or EU matter
drafting activity, unless it is part
speech on non-professional or EU matter,
publication of a text (including a speech) on
to receive payment for a
(freedom of expression,
of an assignment or external
with due respect to the principles of loyalty
a non-professional or EU matter, with due
speech or a publication.
activity, in which case a request
and impartiality. If part of an assignment or
respect to the principles of loyalty and
has to be introduced in the Ethics
external activity, a request has to be
Done outside working hours
module in Sysper 2.
introduced in the Ethics module in Sysper
Speech/text on professional
No authorisation is needed for the
If a speech on a professional or EU matter
An authorisation is needed for the
An authorisation is needed
or EU matter outside the
drafting activity, unless it is part
outside the scope of duties is to be
publication of a text (including a speech) on
to receive payment for a
scope of duties (freedom of
of an assignment or external
published or there is a likelihood that it will a professional or EU matter outside the
speech or a publication.
expression, not speaking on
activity, in which case a request
be published, an authorisation is needed.
scope of duties. Add a disclaimer in the text
behalf of the Commission)
has to be introduced in the Ethics
If the speech is performed as part of an
module in Sysper 2.
Done outside working hours
assignment or external activity, a request
has to be introduced in the Ethics module
in Sysper 2.
Speech/text on professional
To be approved as requested by
To be approved as requested by manager:
1) If published under your own name, an
Such a payment is normally
or EU matter within the
manager: e-mail, signataire, etc.
e-mail, signataire, etc. As this is part of
authorisation of the Appointing Authority is
not allowed. If confronted
scope of duties (part of your
As this is part of work, no
work, no authorisation of the Appointing
needed. Copyright remains with the
to such a situation, contact
work, speaking on behalf of
authorisation of the Appointing
Authority is needed.
Commission. Add a copyright and
DG COMP's Ethics &
Authority is needed.
disclaimer notice in the text (see below),
Compliance Officer (ECO).
Inform the CPI Unit before performing the
contact the CPI unit to arrange for the
2) If published as a Commission document
to be approved as requested by manager.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author.
Copyright & disclaimer notice:
This article was written by [name of the author], Directorate-General Competition, © European Union, [year]. [Reproduction is authorised provided the source
is acknowledged.] The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the European Commission.