Corporate Europe Observatory

Exposing the power of corporate lobbying in the EU

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Hunger brokers

The Commission recently put forward a proposal to curb the lethal volatility in food prices by addressing speculation. But preparations of new legislation have been dominated by the financial lobby, and they've had an impact. Effective measures seem far away.

Before taking office in early 2010, the Single Market Commissioner Michel Barnier told a cross interrogation in the European Parliament that in order to stop the 'scandalous speculation in agricultural commodities, 'we as responsible politicians have to regulate derivatives very carefully. Despite this, when the Commission presented its proposal in October 2011 for a review of the “Markets in Financial-Instruments Directive” (MiFID) the level of ambition was significantly lower than US law, and will not, as it stands, do much to address the lethal volatility of agricultural commodity prices.

Why are ambitions so low? A look at the way the proposal was prepared provides some indications. It reveals a long standing problem at the Commission: that regulatory reform is mainly dealt with through interactions with the financial sector. A tradition that is always exploited effectively by the financial lobby that commands tremendous resources.

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This summer Greece's financial authorities fined 20 hedge funds for speculating against the Greek economy. Now, the main global lobby group for hedge funds is trying to tweak the EU's rules so they can have a free play in the future.

Murky channels for corporate influence in the European Parliament.
Civil society groups denounce the Commission's plan for a Capital Markets Union. No lesson has been learnt from the financial crisis, they say.
The investment bank Goldman Sachs has revised its registration in the EU's lobby transparency register and has substantially increased its declared lobby spend from the 2013 figure of less than €50,000 to €700,000-€799,999 for 2014. This compounds Corporate Europe Observatory's view that Goldman Sachs' original registration was not a full reflection of its EU lobbying activity. Yet despite this under-reporting, for five months the register secretariat took little action and Goldman Sachs was able to secure at least four meetings with top Commission officials.

An Open Letter to Heads of State and Government of the European Union

In a strongly worded decision, the appointment process of Edmund Stoiber as a high-level special advisor to the European Commission President Juncker has been labelled "misleading", and constituting maladministration.

You have probably never heard of AMISA2. But it turns out that AMISA2 and its predecessor AMISA have had staggeringly regular high-level access to senior EU decision-makers for decades. It is a quiet but persistent presence operating in the shadows of the Brussels bubble.

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.

The corporate lobby tour

Stop the Crop

Alternative Trade Mandate