Former European President Jose Manuel Barroso has issued a blistering attack on EU leaders and institutions over their attempts to frustrate his plans to take up a new role with Goldman Sachs.
In a strongly worded letter sent to his successor, Jean-Claude Juncker, today, Barroso stated: "It has been claimed that the mere fact of working with Goldman Sachs raises questions of integrity. Whilst I respect that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, the rules are clear and they must be respected.
"These claims are baseless and wholly unmerited. They are discriminatory against me and against Goldman Sachs."
Yesterday, Juncker announced the EU will undertake an ethics investigation into Barroso's new role with the investment bank, to determine whether his appointment breaks EU rules. Barroso, who led the European Commission for a decade between 2004 and 2014, will be asked to clarify his role at Goldman Sachs and whether he will be involved in lobbying his former colleagues and subordinates.
"I have not been engaged to lobby on behalf of Goldman Sachs and I do not intend to do so," Barroso stated.
"Whilst, in principle, I have no objection to the reference to the committee, I would have concerns if a decision about my status has already been made," Barroso warned Juncker, in the letter seen by various media outlets. He added: "Not only are these actions discriminatory, but they appear to be inconsistent with decisions taken in respect of other former members of the Commission."
In response to his appointment as the chair of Goldman Sachs International, employees at the European institutions launched a petition calling for "strong, exemplary measures to be taken" against Barroso.
Goldman Sachs has previously defended the appointment, stating it abided by the 18-month window where Barroso's appointments were subject to intense scrutiny, and insisted: "We follow strict rules set by our global regulators in the hiring of ex-government officials."