Corporate Europe Observatory

Exposing the power of corporate lobbying in the EU

  • Dansk
  • NL
  • EN
  • FI
  • FR
  • DE
  • EL
  • IT
  • NO
  • PL
  • PT
  • RO
  • SL
  • ES
  • SV

MEP: lobbyism main reason for bad policy

Swedish MEP Carl Schlyter (Green) has told Corporate Europe Observatory that lobbyism is the main reason why the EU makes bad policies. Interviewed about his role as rapporteur for the European Parliament on the future of EU member states' bilateral investment treaties, he said he had never seen such an extreme example of MEPs focusing solely on big business interests.

Bilateral investment treaties give sweeping powers to foreign investors, including the right to challenge governments in international tribunals if they believe that new laws designed to protect the environment, public health or social well-being have adversely affected their profits. Schlyter said there was widespread agreement among MEPs and member state governments that it was right to protect the interests of investors – regardless of the consequences.

"The whole idea about just protecting industry is rooted in this colonial mindset that we are the ones doing business abroad and other countries are being developed by our investment. But it's no longer only Europeans doing business abroad. It's as if no one has realised that, for example, state-owned companies from China could come here and invest and we would have no democratic tools to intervene in what they are doing."

Asked about the recent cash-for-laws scandal, which saw three MEPs accused of accepting cash to table amendments, he said the practice was "disgusting" but questioned whether it was any worse than tabling amendments for lobbyists for free.

"I don't know what is more tragic because the result for policies is the same," he said. "Some of the amendments to my report are too technical to have been done by people who haven't followed the dossier at all. It is quite clear that many of these amendments originate from outside people's offices, most of them coming from industry or from governments."

"Lobbyism is for me the main reason why we are not making good policies. And it is hardly ever discussed in public. That has to change".

Schlyter believes one way to make the change would be to have a register of every email sent to an MEP with the intention of changing a policy or a law, allowing the public to see where amendments originate.

He also said he would like to see a fairer distribution of lobby badges for the Parliament, with a third given to economic interests, one third to NGOs and one third to social interests such as trade unions and universities.

And he said the EU's lobby transparency register should be made compulsory, with heavy fines for anyone found failing to comply.

Read the full interview here:

Bilateral investment treaties give sweeping powers to foreign investors, including the right to challenge governments in international tribunals if they believe that new laws designed to protect the environment, public health or social well-being have adversely affected their profits. Schlyter said there was widespread agreement among MEPs and member state governments that it was right to protect the interests of investors – regardless of the consequences."The whole idea about just protecting industry is rooted in this colonial mindset that we are the ones doing business abroad and other countries are being developed by our investment. But it's no longer only Europeans doing business abroad. It's as if no one has realised that, for example, state-owned companies from China could come here and invest and we would have no democratic tools to intervene in what they are doing."Asked about the recent cash-for-laws scandal, which saw three MEPs accused of accepting cash to table amendments, he said the practice was "disgusting" but questioned whether it was any worse than tabling amendments for lobbyists for free."I don't know what is more tragic because the result for policies is the same," he said. "Some of the amendments to my report are too technical to have been done by people who haven't followed the dossier at all. It is quite clear that many of these amendments originate from outside people's offices, most of them coming from industry or from governments.""Lobbyism is for me the main reason why we are not making good policies. And it is hardly ever discussed in public. That has to change".Schlyter believes one way to make the change would be to have a register of every email sent to an MEP with the intention of changing a policy or a law, allowing the public to see where amendments originate.He also said he would like to see a fairer distribution of lobby badges for the Parliament, with a third given to economic interests, one third to NGOs and one third to social interests such as trade unions and universities.And he said the EU's lobby transparency register should be made compulsory, with heavy fines for anyone found failing to comply.Read the full interview here:
 

The corporate lobby tour

Law firms and their stake in TTIP
The prospective EU-US trade deal could be the world's biggest such treaty. The revolving door between public and private sectors is helping to grease the wheels of the TTIP corporate lobby. This phenomenon creates great potential for conflicts of interest, and demonstrates the synergies between business interests and the Commission, UK government, and others when it comes to trade negotiations.
Which businesses are pushing most for the proposed EU-US trade deal TTIP? Who’s influencing EU negotiators? Corporate Europe Observatory’s new info-graphics reveal the corporate lobby behind the TTIP talks.
An often asked question is whether TTIP will weaken Europe's rules over genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Meanwhile, the biotech industry is pushing for the products of the 'next generation' biotech crops to escape the EU's legislation on GMOs and therefore to go unregulated. Is there a link between this new push, and TTIP? Emails obtained via a Freedom of Information request show this might indeed be the case.
Story

Not our Europe

The ‘agreement’ that the eurozone countries and the Troika forced on the Greek government during the “night of shame” strangled space for a progressive project. It is not only dangerous for the Greeks, but for citizens all across the European Union.
Reforms announced last week do little to address flaws in EU's Emissions Trading System.
Today's Commission announcement extends a failing system for another 15 years.
The prospective EU-US trade deal could be the world's biggest such treaty. The revolving door between public and private sectors is helping to grease the wheels of the TTIP corporate lobby. This phenomenon creates great potential for conflicts of interest, and demonstrates the synergies between business interests and the Commission, UK government, and others when it comes to trade negotiations.

Stop the Crop

Alternative Trade Mandate