‘Brussels advised Kroes: do not ask permission for Uber’s lobbying work’ 10:30 in Domestic, Abroad Last year it emerged that Kroes had secretly lobbied for taxi app Uber in 2015 and 2016. The top of the European Commission had a role in keeping that work out of the public, Follow the Money reports.

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Neelie Kroes
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Former European Commissioner Neelie Kroes planned to be open about her plans to work for taxi app Uber in 2015, but was urged by the top of the European Commission to withdraw her request for permission for the position . Follow the Money writes this based on the Uber Files. This meant that the advisory work of the VVD prominent remained out of the public eye.

Last year it emerged that Kroes had secretly lobbied for the American tech group in 2015 and 2016. Former European Commissioners are subject to a so-called cooling-off period, during which the European Commission must give permission for various new activities at companies.

For Kroes, the cooling-off period came into effect in 2015. She resigned as European Commissioner for Digital Affairs at the end of October 2014. Starting work at Uber a year later would fall within the period in which Brussels still has a say in her position.

Negative advice

But in September 2015, less than a year after her departure as European Commissioner, Kroes asked for permission to become chairman of Uber’s advisory board. Two months later, an advisory committee of the European Commission came to a negative decision, because the position would not fit the requirements set for a former European Commissioner.

The highest official of the European Commission therefore advised Kroes to withdraw her request and only start working for Uber after the cooling-off period, which was then eighteen months. Otherwise, the College of European Commissioners could impose a formal ban.

The documents that Follow the Money saw showed that Kroes did not actually intend to withdraw her request, because it “did not correspond” with the applicable procedures. This would make her request public. Kroes wrote that he was fully aware of this. “I have no intention of circumventing the principle of transparency by withdrawing my notification,” she told then-President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker.

However, Juncker advised Kroes the same as the highest official. He wrote to Kroes that he would be “very grateful” if she withdrew her request, “otherwise we would have to make a negative decision.” And that is what the prominent VVD eventually did. According to Follow the Money, it is not clear why. By withdrawing the request, Kroes’ position remained out of the public eye.

By the way, according to Follow the Money, something similar happened in three other cases. The Commission’s advisory committee wrote three more opinions in 2015, which were also never published because the requests were withdrawn.

Kroes tells the research platform that he does not want to respond until the investigation by the European anti-fraud office OLAF has been completed. This is investigating Kroes’ lobbying work. It is not known when that investigation will be completed. She previously said she had no formal or informal role at Uber before her official appointment in 2016.

  • Chamber and State Secretary want new documents from Uber whistleblower
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  • European anti-fraud agency investigates lobbying by Neelie Kroes
  • Domestic

  • Abroad

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