European Commission reprimands former Commissioner Neelie Kroes for negligent breach of EU rules

Today, the European Commission discussed the situation concerning former Commissioner Neelie Kroes and concluded two things: First, that she had violated the Code of Conduct of Commissioners because she had not included in her Declaration of Interests of 2004 the fact that she held a post as Director of Mint Holdings Limited since July 2000 – even if this activity was not effectively exercised nor paid for. Taking note of the opinion of the Ad Hoc Ethical Committee of 16 November 2016 concerning the fact of continuing to feature in the Register as a Director, the Commission however also concluded that Ms Kroes cannot be blamed for violating Article 245 TFEU, if she has not been and could not reasonably have been aware of still holding the post. The Commission took note of Ms Kroes’ apologies expressed in her letters of 16 September and 26 September 2016. Second, the Commission concluded that Ms Kroes was in breach of Article 7(4) of Regulation 422/67 in conjunction with Article 245 TFEU because she omitted to declare her income for the year 2015 whilst having accepted the transitional allowance. She therefore did not act with the necessary diligence. The Commission further concluded that, while it did not have sufficient elements nor legal grounds to seize the Court of Justice of the EU regarding these breaches and to seek a financial sanction – notably in view of the fact that the Commission has immediately recovered the money and thus prevented any loss for the budget of the Union following the information later provided by Ms Kroes –, Ms Kroes deserved a reprimand which the Commission expressed. Ms Kroes has been informed of the Commission’s decision by a letter of the Secretary-General of the European Commission.