Brussels is at the centre of EU decision-making and as such attracts thousands of lobbyists, promoting the interests of big business. Easily outnumbering and outspending public interest groups, corporate lobbyists are also given privileged access by the European institutions. The emerging lobbycracy results in flawed policies that put commercial interests above those of people and the environment and undermines the very basis of democracy.
The story of the Pioneer GM maize crop has culminated in the biggest controversy on genetic modification (GM) issues in years. On Tuesday 11 February a record number of 19 EU countries declared themselves to be opposed to Pioneer's GM maize being authorised for cultivation in the EU. This included the Netherlands, Romania and Ireland, all of whom were expected to either vote in favour or abstain just before the vote. Only five countries said they were in favour (among them the UK, Spain and Sweden) and the rest abstained.
At the moment, too many European citizens feel alienated from the decisions made in Brussels. And that is not surprising. Big corporations, lobby consultancies and law firms spend hundreds of millions of euros every year to ensure that EU policy-making meets the needs of big business and not the public interest – and it works.
Corporate Europe Observatory
Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) is a research and campaign group working to expose and challenge the privileged access and influence enjoyed by corporations and their lobby groups in EU policy making.