Yesterday it was reported that the EU Commission has appointed former IFPI lobbyist Maria Martin-Pratt to be the new Head of Unit responsible for copyright issues at the Commission.
Today, I and fellow Member of the European Parliament Marietje Schaake (Liberal, NL) submitted the following formal question to the Commission:
Written Question to the Commission (Rule 117)
AUTHOR(S): SCHAAKE, Marietje; ENGSTRÖM, Christian
SUBJECT: Conflicting interests in copyright-related issues?
According to media reports, the Commission has appointed a new Head of Unit for the department responsible for copyright-related issues (e.g. ACTA and IPRED). This person is, according to the reports, a former Director of Global Legal Policy at the Phonographic Industry lobby organisation IFPI.
Can the Commission confirm if this is the case?
Does the Commission not see any problems in recruiting top civil servants from special interest organisations, especially when being put in charge of dossiers directly related to their former employers? If not, why not?
Does the Commission feel that such an appointment would help to build confidence with the European Parliament and the general public that the Commission can be trusted to handle copyright-related issues in a fair and balanced manner?
Some related links on the Internet:
An answer from the Commission should be expected in about 6 weeks, and will appear on my EU-parl page for written questions.
Update: Answer from the Commission:
Joint answer given by Mr Barnier on behalf of the Commission
Written questions : E-003642/11 , E-003718/11
1. Yes. The person concerned worked as Director for Global Legal Policy at the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) between October 1999 and August 2004.
2. The official concerned worked in the music industry many years ago. She has not been ‘recruited from a special interest organisation’, but was already a Head of Unit in the Commission. Her experience of the music industry will be useful, as will her previous experience in copyright policy working for both the European Parliament and the European Commission.
3. Article 11 of the Staff Regulations provides that an official shall carry out his duties and conduct himself solely with the interests of the Union in mind, that he shall neither seek nor take instructions from any government, authority, organisation or person outside his institution and that he shall carry out the duties assigned to him objectively, impartially and in keeping with his duty of loyalty to the Union. The impartiality and loyalty of the person in question are impeccable as her years of service as a Head of Unit have shown. The Commission is confident that this is the right appointment for the position of Head of Unit for copyright issues.