A NEW ethics code for retiring EU commissioners is to be introduced following controversy over appointments, including positions offered to former finance minister Charlie McCreevy.

The draft code prepared by the European Union puts in place new rules to avoid the possibility of conflicts of interest for former commissioners.

New measures, including an 18-month notification period in which commissioners have to declare any appointments they are considering, are to be introduced. Former EU commissioners will also be prohibited from lobbying, but only if it relates to areas in which they had previous responsibilities.

They will also be barred from hiring family members for their "cabinet", according to draft rules prepared by Jose Manuel Barroso, the president of the EU Commission.

Under the terms of the new code, Charlie McCreevy's appointment as a director of low-fares airline Ryanair would still be allowed, however.

A second appointment proposed for McCreevy with an investment bank had already been ruled out on the basis of the potential for conflict of interest.

Alter-EU, a group campaigning for transparency in the European Union, said the new guidelines were still too lax and that the lobby ban should be extended to three years and should cover all issues.