The regulations governing the incompatibility regime of public servants allow deputies, senators or MEPs to use their contacts in public administrations for their private businesses as soon as they finish their terms or at the same time that they leave their seats. The laws guarantee, therefore, that the ex-minister and 'former number two' of the PSOE, José Blanco, a socialist MEP until 2019, sells the services of his private consultant Acento to important listed companies, ensuring that he has direct contact with the ministers of the current Government Pedro Sánchez, a practice that revealed this Monday eldiario.es.
Blanco signs Alfonso Alonso as president of his consulting firm
In Spanish law, the limitations to the exercise of private activities after the termination are only contemplated for the high positions of the General State Administration such as ministers, secretaries of state, undersecretaries or general managers of public companies. But not for former deputies, senators or former MPs like Blanco, nor for directors of companies whose main shareholder is the State through the Sociedad Estatal de Participaciones Industriales (SEPI).
Three weeks ago, the former socialist minister was precisely appointed independent director of Enagás, one of the companies participated by SEPI, and it was at the initiative of the state entity, as admitted the own Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez. But despite the fact that there could be a conflict of interest –Blanco is part of a public company dependent on the Government with which it claims to put its clients in contact–, this designation does not collide with any incompatibility regime or prevent it from exercising the front from his lobby group, Acento - founded with the former socialist deputy Antonio Hernando and of which he has recently been ex-leader of the Basque PP Alfonso Alonso appointed president-, despite still enjoying influence in the Executive.
The 2015 regulation establishes that "the high positions, during the two years following the date of their cessation, may not provide services in private entities that have been affected by decisions in which they have participated", nor "may they celebrate by themselves or through entities They are directly or indirectly owned by them in more than ten percent, technical assistance, service or similar contracts with the public administration (...) provided they are directly related to the functions that the high office exercised. "
The cases of Tejerina and Escolano
Blanco, in any case, ceased to be Minister of Development in December 2011, when the aforementioned regulations limiting the exercise of private activities after the cessation had not yet been approved. And if it had been in force, it would only have prevented its activity lobbyist with the public administration until two years later, December 2013.
Recently, another former minister, the popular Isabel García Tejerina, had to wait for the two years after her departure from the last Government of Mariano Rajoy in June to join another consultancy, EY, with ties to the public sector, precisely because of the aforementioned incompatibility regime.
The 2015 law opens the door for senior officials to join private companies before those two years, although always with the permission of the Conflict of Interest Office under the Ministry of Public Function, which did, for example, guarantee that the Former Minister of Economy Román Escolano - who like Tejerina also left his post in June 2018 - signed for LLyC in 2019.
Acento, the consulting firm founded by Blanco and by the also former socialist deputy Antonio Hernando, offers as services to private companies "a permanent dialogue with the public powers and others stakeholders on regulation and its influence on the company's investments. "In its activity, Acento also proposes as lines of action" to facilitate dialogue between the company and the Government, taking into account the added value, opportunities and potential of the company. "or" establish a permanent dialogue with those responsible for the Administrations and Ministries in the regulatory and legal initiatives that may affect the interests and investments of the company. "
In fact, in the consultant's dossiers Several current government ministers appear as interlocutors at the state level to which both Blanco and Hernando have access, who appear as project leaders. Among them you can find the Minister of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda, José Luis Ábalos, the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Reyes Maroto or the Vice President and Minister for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, Teresa Ribera.
The incompatibilities of the deputies
Despite the fact that barely a year has passed since Blanco left his seat in Brussels, current legislation does not prohibit in any case that the former minister can use those contacts in the Government to obtain clients and take steps for his private consultancy. The incompatibilities of deputies, senators and MEPs are only included for the period in which the elected exercise their responsibilities in the different chambers.
The Organic Law of the General Electoral Regime (LOREG) it is limited to indicating that "the mandate" of the Members of the European Parliament "will be exercised in a regime of absolute dedication", and that the MEPs "will not be able to receive from the budgets of the state, regional or local public sector any remuneration, except which, where appropriate, may correspond to them because of their status as such, "nor" form part of the collegiate management bodies or boards of directors of organizations, public entities or companies with direct or indirect majority public participation. "
Also, the Act concerning the election of the Members of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage of 1976, which continues to regulate the activity of MEPs, also establishes incompatibilities related exclusively to the term of office.
But the regulations only refer to the time in which they keep their seats. Once the mandate is over, as is the case of Blanco, there is a free way to carry out any type of private activity using influence in governments, parliaments or different public administrations.