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EU petition on Barroso bank job tops 150,000

Retired EU staff deliver a box containing a petition with over 150,000 signatures against Jose Manuel Barroso's decision to work for Goldman Sachs, at the EU Headquarters in Brussels, on October 12, 2016

The number of people signed up to a petition launched by EU staff demanding that former European commission President Jose Manuel Barroso lose his pension after he took a job with Goldman Sachs on Wednesday reached 152,000.

Barroso, a former Portugese prime minister who led the commission from 2004 to 2014, took an advisory position at US investment bank Goldman Sachs this summer, causing a furore over conflict of interest.

The decision by Barroso to join Goldman Sachs "is a further example of the irresponsible revolving-door practices, which are highly damaging to the EU institutions and, even if not illegal, morally reprehensible," the petition said.

"It is irresponsible because it feeds into a political context which is not only Eurosceptic but now even openly Europhobic," it added.

A delegation attempted to present the petition on Wednesday to the commission, but was turned away.

Since its launch by a small group of EU employees in July, the petition movement has gathered momentum as anger grows against top officials in the EU entering the private sector.

French President Francois Hollande labeled Barroso's new job as "morally unacceptable" at the time of his hiring.

Barroso has since strongly hit back at his critics, calling the accusations "discriminatory", adding that he complied with the EU's 18-month separation rule.

More recently it emerged that former EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes had been a director of a Bahamas-based firm during her tenure from 2004 to 2009.

This was in violation of EU code of conduct rules that state "commissioners may not engage in any other professional activity, whether gainful or not."

A commission ethics panel is now investigating both the Barroso and Kroes cases.

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