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The European Commission took advantage of the United Kingdom's 29 March triggering of Article 50 as cover for some potentially awkward revolving door news.

The commission quietly announced that it had cleared Britain’s former EU commissioner Jonathan Hill to take on two high profile jobs. The first of these is as senior advisor to law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, which in Brussels pushes the interests of financial sector clients including the London Stock Exchange and Lloyd’s of London. As Lord Hill was EU commissioner for financial services and capital markets, his expertise should prove very valuable. For Hill, active in PR before he joined the commission, it marks a return to home turf.

The commission placed conditions on Hill’s Freshfields role: he should not advise on financial services issues and should not lobby the commission. However those stipulations expire after an 18 month cooling-off period. Hill resigned as a commissioner in mid-2016, so happily for Freshfields he will be free to lobby and advise from early 2018, just as the Brexit negotiations heat up, and while Hill is still entitled to transitional allowances paid to ex-EU commissioners (and which Hill’s House of Lords entry confirms he receives).

For Hill’s other new job, the commission said it had no concerns. The job “does not present a risk of incompatibility” with his former EU role. After all, it’s just a gig as an independent national director of The Times Newspapers Ltd, which during the Brexit negotiations will of course have no interest in, er…, inside information about Brussels.

By Stephen Gardner.

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