Friday 15 January late afternoon, Commission President Barroso replied to the letter that the President of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek had sent him a day before.
In his response Mr. Barroso backs Ms. Jeleva. Interestingly, Mr. Barroso puts his full trust in a short written statement by Ms. Jeleva, attached to Mr. Barroso’s letter to Mr. Buzek, in which she states that her “declaration of interest, signed on the 17 December 2009 and submitted to the Commission in accordance with the Code of conduct for commissioners, is fully accurate and complete.”
There is absolutely no indication that the Commission has double checked Ms. Jeleva’s statement. In fact Mr. Barroso admits that “the Commission, like the EP, relies on the statements of the individual concerned, lacking any specific procedure of control in the Union law in this respect.”
This confirms the serious issue we raised on this blog last Friday: the Commission is not scrutinising Commissioners’ declarations of interest, even in the case of Ms. Jeleva, about whom serious rumours have circulated in the media and in the Parliament since her designation as Commissioner in November 2009.
President Barroso takes quite a risk by not waging a serious investigation of the accuracy of Ms. Jeleva’s declaration of interest and of potential conflicts of interest that she may have. If the European Parliament’s legal service will detect irregularities, the reputational damage will now also extend to Mr. Barroso himself.