Corporate Europe Observatory

Exposing the power of corporate lobbying in the EU

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Europe's resource grab – Vested interests at work in the European Parliament

On 30 June, the European Parliament’s industry, energy and research committee (ITRE) is due to vote on the EU’s Raw Materials Initiative, establishing guidelines for Europe's future policy on natural resource use. The Parliament’s report could effectively give the green light to mining in protected European nature reserves as well as a resource grab in Asia, Africa, the Americas and the Arctic.

The vote follows fierce calls from a number of MEPs with close links to industry for European big business to be allowed to exploit other countries’ raw materials without any restrictions – via trade, development and even military policies. MEPs have also tried to block strong language in the report on the need to stop corporate abuse in the extraction sector and to reduce Europe’s over-consumption of raw materials.

Several of the MEPs pushing this aggressive agenda are from the European People’s Party (EPP) and have close links to industry sectors which have a vested interest in the raw materials debate (Bendt Bendtsen – Denmark; Herbert Reul and Daniel Caspary – Germany).

Others such as Paul Rübig MEP (EPP, Austria) seem to have clear conflicts of interests. Rübig profits from companies which depend heavily on the access to cheap raw materials. He also has close connections with industry lobby groups which have tried to shape the EU’s Raw Materials Initiative. Nonetheless, Rübig is one of the lead persons in the debate in Parliament and has set up a cross-party group of MEPs, the European Raw Materials Group, which will follow the issue, working closely with a parallel industry group.

Another MEP who appears to have a distinct conflict of interest is Elmar Brok (EPP, Germany) who has argued for military backing for the EU's resource policy. Brok is employed by media giant Bertelsmann, the parent group of Arvato Services Technical Information, which sells IT services to clients in the military sector.

Following the Parliament’s cash for influence scandal earlier this year, when three MEPs were caught accepting cash in return for amending laws, MEPs lobbying links have been under close scrutiny. A parliamentary working group, chaired by the President of the Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, was established to develop a code of conduct for MEPs and is scheduled to conclude its deliberations this week. The findings of this report underline the importance of tackling the issue of conflicts of interest in the Parliament. In particular, it is vital that the new code of conduct for MEPs bans all second jobs that involve lobbying or which require an MEP to act in another's interests ie. by being a board member of a company. There also needs to be regulation of all cross-party groups, including MEP-industry forums.

Read the full report:

Attached files: 
The vote follows fierce calls from a number of MEPs with close links to industry for European big business to be allowed to exploit other countries’ raw materials without any restrictions – via trade, development and even military policies. MEPs have also tried to block strong language in the report on the need to stop corporate abuse in the extraction sector and to reduce Europe’s over-consumption of raw materials.Several of the MEPs pushing this aggressive agenda are from the European People’s Party (EPP) and have close links to industry sectors which have a vested interest in the raw materials debate (Bendt Bendtsen – Denmark; Herbert Reul and Daniel Caspary – Germany).Others such as Paul Rübig MEP (EPP, Austria) seem to have clear conflicts of interests. Rübig profits from companies which depend heavily on the access to cheap raw materials. He also has close connections with industry lobby groups which have tried to shape the EU’s Raw Materials Initiative. Nonetheless, Rübig is one of the lead persons in the debate in Parliament and has set up a cross-party group of MEPs, the European Raw Materials Group, which will follow the issue, working closely with a parallel industry group.Another MEP who appears to have a distinct conflict of interest is Elmar Brok (EPP, Germany) who has argued for military backing for the EU's resource policy. Brok is employed by media giant Bertelsmann, the parent group of Arvato Services Technical Information, which sells IT services to clients in the military sector.Following the Parliament’s cash for influence scandal earlier this year, when three MEPs were caught accepting cash in return for amending laws, MEPs lobbying links have been under close scrutiny. A parliamentary working group, chaired by the President of the Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, was established to develop a code of conduct for MEPs and is scheduled to conclude its deliberations this week. The findings of this report underline the importance of tackling the issue of conflicts of interest in the Parliament. In particular, it is vital that the new code of conduct for MEPs bans all second jobs that involve lobbying or which require an MEP to act in another's interests ie. by being a board member of a company. There also needs to be regulation of all cross-party groups, including MEP-industry forums.Read the full report:
 

It's almost six months since EU Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete claimed to have negotiated an historic global deal to tackle climate change at COP21in Paris. The 3 May also marked a year and a half of Cañete being in the job. However, he and his his boss, Vice President of the Commission Maros Šefčovič, continue to give privileged access to fossil fuel players trashing the climate, who have enjoyed eight meetings to every one involving renewable energy or energy efficiency interests since the Paris deal was signed. Rather than a change of direction, it's business as usual for the European Commission following the Paris Agreement, which is great news for Big Energy but a disaster for those serious about tackling climate change.

In the middle of May over 4000 people from all over Europe gathered in the Lusatia region in Eastern Germany. The plan? To block a Vattenfall-owned opencast lignite mine.

In light of the ITRE Opinion and forthcoming discussion on the proposed Directive to reform the Emissions Trading System (and “enhance cost-effective emission reductions and low-carbon investments”), CEO offers comments. 

Ultimately, revisions of this sort are nowhere near enough. The new ETS Directive requires some "damage limitation." But it is also a time to reflect on the need to move beyond emissions trading at the heart of EU climate policy. There are many ways to achieve this: http://corporateeurope.org/climate-and-energy/2014/01/life-beyond-emissi...

A revised Emissions Trading Directive is like red meat for the hungry pack of lobbyists that work the corridors of Brussels’ political institutions. Even minor differences in how pollution permits are handed out can result in profits or savings of millions of euros to big polluters.

A few weeks after the May coup against Dilma Rousseff by conservative parties backed by the country's largest corporations, Brazil's “interim” government, led by Michel Temer, signed an emergency loan to the State of Rio de Janeiro to help finance infrastructure for the 2016 Olympics. The bailout was conditional to selling off the State's public water supply and sanitation company, the Companhia Estadual de Águas e Esgotos (Cedae). 

When we interviewed City Councillor and chair of Rio’s Special Committee on the Water Crisis Renato Cinco, in December 2015, he was already warning against such privatisation threats and provided important background information on the water situation in Rio.

Never before has a former European Commission official been criticised as much for his post-EU career as ex-Commission president Barroso upon joining infamous US investment bank Goldman Sachs this summer. Citizens are outraged and evidence already points towards a gross violation of the EU Treaty.

Following the high-level appointment of former European Commission President José Manuel Barroso to Goldman Sachs, NGOs have launched a petition demanding stricter rules for ex-EU commissioners’ revolving door moves.

Corporate Europe Observatory's new report 'A spoonful of sugar' illustrates how the sugar lobby undermines existing laws and fights off much-needed measures that are vital for tackling Europe’s looming obesity crisis.

 
 
 
 
 
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The corporate lobby tour