The revolving door has been in the headlines again in recent weeks with the speedy departure of a top official from the EU's medicines agency to a prominent law firm. Such moves, known as going through the revolving door, can allow the private sector to 'capture' or unduly influence the work of the public sector and it is vital that all public authorities including the EU agencies and the European Commission take this threat seriously. This example and other recent revolving door cases again raise questions as to how well the EU institutions implement the current rules, and whether the Commission will seize the initiative to tighten up on the loopholes which undermine them.
Vincenzo Salvatore was the Head of Legal Service at the European Medicines Agency until June 2012 when he announced that he would be moving to the law firm Sidley Austin to work in their European life sciences regulatory practice. Sidley Austin said that Professor Salvatore would be providing “clients with strategic legal counseling on the EU’s legal process regulating all aspects of the pharmaceutical industry...”, a role for which his time at EMA would undoubtedly have been useful preparation. Such a senior official as Salvatore is likely to have been aware of the revolving door rules in place at the agency and the need for “officials intending to engage in an occupational activity … [to] inform their institution thereof”. After all, Salvatore was Head of Legal Service when the former director of that agency, Thomas Lönngren, himself went through the revolving door. In that case, EMA only belatedly applied restrictions on Dr Lönngren's new consultancy work.