EU, whistleblowing

‘GROUNDHOG DAY’ IN WHISTLEBLOWER SAGA: MEPs on the budgetary control committee on Tuesday urged the EU’s Committee of the Regions (CoR) to finally engage at the highest level to settle the 20-year-old case of Robert McCoy, a former internal auditor who told Parliament he has been severely harassed after he blew the whistle on “fraud and embezzlement” at the EU body (backstory from 2015 here).

“When I look at this case, it reminds me of the American film ‘Groundhog Day’ where the protagonist becomes trapped in a time loop,” said Czech MEP Tomáš Zdechovský from the EPP, alluding to a years-long legal and institutional battle that followed McCoy’s accusations and never led to closure on the case.

Budgetary control committee chair Monika Hohlmeier, also EPP, said that even though the current CoR President Apostolos Tzitzikostas is not “directly responsible” for what happened 20 years ago, “he’s still the president of the Committee of the Regions and must, of course, fulfill his obligations accordingly.”

Whistleblower speaks: In his intervention before Parliament, McCoy claimed the Committee of the Regions had run “a vindictive campaign” against him and “denigrated” his personal and professional reputation, without ever recognizing the mistreatment or offering an apology. “The last 20 years I’ve been forced to spend fighting a rogue institution which has been able to call on unlimited taxpayer-funded resources in its attempt to steamroll me into submission,” he said. The CoR has rejected many of McCoy’s accusations but said it paid him financial compensation for “moral damages.”

‘Rotten to the core’: Upping the ante for the Committee of the Regions was Dutch MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld, who previously used to work at the committee and told Parliament that from her experience, the administration at the CoR had been “totally incompetent and rotten to the core.” She accused the CoR of being stuck in “full denial mode” and suggested MEPs consider potential budgetary sanctions, given that Parliament has already adopted various resolutions over the past two decades, urging the CoR to correct wrongdoings without achieving the desired results.

Reaction: The harsh criticism might have had an effect. Following the hearing, the CoR’s financial affairs chairman, Anders Knape, wrote a letter to Hohlmeier, assuring his “personal political determination to solve this matter in the fairest way possible.” He also said that CoR President Tzitzikostas was willing to meet McCoy to try to resolve the matter.

NEW TOP LOBBYIST: Agata Gostyńska-Jakubowska will become a new senior government affairs manager at Apple in Brussels as of November 16. She has worked as a senior research fellow at the Centre for European Reform, a think tank, where she covered Brexit, the rule of law and EU institutional affairs.

11-XI-20, politico