Barroso must not divulge secrets to Goldman Sachs: EU

Brussels (AFP) - The European Commission said Monday its former head Jose Manuel Barroso will be bound by EU rules of professional secrecy at his controversial new job for US investment bank Goldman Sachs.

The bank has hired Barroso, who headed the executive of the 28-nation European Union from 2004 until 2014, as an advisor on the British public's June 23 vote to leave the EU, drawing fire from leftist politicians in Europe.

"All former members of the (commission) will remain bound by the obligations of integrity, discretion and professional secrecy" by EU law, Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas told a press conference in Brussels.

He cited EU laws under which former commission members can lose their rights to pensions or benefits if they fail to respect strict conflict-of-interest rules even after leaving their jobs.

Barroso did not have to inform his successor Jean-Claude Juncker about the job because he had been through an 18-month "cooling off" period since leaving the EU and it was safe to assume he no longer had access to privileged information or influence, Schinas said.

"President Juncker was informed after the decision was announced. There was no formal obligation for notification," Schinas said, adding that it was via phone call from Barroso.

"But once the transition is made from the public to the private sector there are very precise articles of the treaty which must be respected," he added.

"And we have a duty as a commission to ensure these articles are respected," said Schinas.