EU Climate Action Commissioner Wopke Hoekstra has refused to disclose who he consulted for when working for management consultancy McKinsey, in a letter to the European Parliament seen by Euractiv.
The letter, dated 30 November, specifies that the company cannot disclose the documents due to “confidentiality obligations and expectations,” Hoekstra explained.
“In light of past client confidentiality agreements, I have no permission by McKinsey to disclose the list of clients or projects I served during my tenure at the firm,” the commissioner said.
McKinsey is a global management consulting firm whose top clients include the US defence and energy departments, and Saudi Arabian oil group Aramco.
According to the letter, the disclosure was requested by the European Parliament, which endorsed Hoekstra as EU Commissioner in early October 2023, taking over from Frans Timmersmans, who resigned to run as leader of the Dutch socialists in November’s national elections.
During his hearings with MEPs, Hoekstra said that he would obtain McKinsey’s permission to share details about his clients when working for them.
Hoekstra worked for Mckinsey for roughly a decade, after being an employee for oil and gas major Shell between 2002 and 2004. His employment history prompted criticism from a number of MEPs during multiple hearings before his designation.
Hoekstra also specified that the company confirmed that he has “not served any oil companies or other fossil fuel companies while serving as an employee of the company”.
The Commissioner is currently at the global Climate Summit COP28, while Mckinsey is lobbying for its oil and gas clients, to slow down the reduction of use of fossil fuels for the long term, different sources and leaked documents obtained by AFP revealed ahead of the UN climate Summit.
The issue of potential conflict of interests among people working for the European Commission has become an increasingly controversial issue in recent years.
Earlier this year, European Commissioner Margrethe Vestager backed the nominee of the US citizen Fiona Scott Morton as chief economist of the Directorate-General for Competition, prompting criticism – particularly from France – because of her nationality and her positions in the past as a consultant for GAFAM (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft).
EU’s Vestager defends appointment of American economist to top job
EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager backed on Tuesday (18 July) American Fiona Scott Morton as the most qualified candidate to be the chief economist of the Directorate-General for Competition, after her appointment stirred controversy and drew criticism, especially from France.
Following the criticism, Scott Morton eventually decided to withdraw from the post.
[Edited by Benjamin Fox]
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