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

Commission gives a warm welcome to unregistered lobbyists: Dalli not alone in ignoring transparency

Ex-Commissioner John Dalli knowingly met with lobbyists who were not registered in the European Commission and European Parliament’s Transparency Register. Lobbyists who choose to hide from the public who they're lobbying for, on what subject, or how much money they’re spending to influence public policy. Lobbyists who work in the shadows. Shocking? Yes, but it is a very common practice in the Commission to meet with unregistered lobbyists, a sure-fire indicator that despite what it says, the Commission is not really concerned about lobby transparency.

Dalli, defending the role of Maltese acquaintances acting as middlemen between himself and international organisations, admitted that they are not usually registered. But do other Commissioners meet with unregistered interest representatives?

Consider, for example, European Commission Vice-President, and Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, Olli Rehn. 62% of the meetings that the Commissioner responsible for macroeconomic stability had between January 2011 to February 2012, were with unregistered bodies, including three meetings with unregistered global banking giant Goldman Sachs. Of the 34 organisations that Rehn reports having met, the overwhelming majority – 22 (65%) – were not registered in the Transparency Register.*

The Commission is convinced that there is no room for improvement in the transparency of its processes. At the dawn of Dalligate, a Commission spokesperson said “of course there are – following very clear practices and rules - contacts between stakeholders and Commissioners, that is normal practice”. And yet it is evident that these ‘very clear practices and rules’ do not include guidelines for Commissioners to refuse meeting unregistered lobbyists.

The inevitable conclusion is that whilst the Commission maintains that the events around the Dalli case (which, they say, is closed) show that the EU's anti-corruption system works”, the very opposite appears to be true. Dalligate is more than just a scandal about one Commissioner, one lobbyist and one tobacco company. Dalligate is a symptom of a wider problem.

* This is based on a list of Commissioner Rehn’s meetings between January 2011 and February 2012, released to CEO by the Commission in September 2012 . The organisations met by Rehn were then cross-referenced with the organisations listed in the Transparency Register (accessed 30 October 2012). It should be noted that there is some ambiguity as to what were meetings (which the content of this list is entitled), as in one place the Commission uses the label “Meeting or Received Letter”.

Dalli, defending the role of Maltese acquaintances acting as middlemen between himself and international organisations, admitted that they are not usually registered. But do other Commissioners meet with unregistered interest representatives?Consider, for example, European Commission Vice-President, and Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, Olli Rehn. 62% of the meetings that the Commissioner responsible for macroeconomic stability had between January 2011 to February 2012, were with unregistered bodies, including three meetings with unregistered global banking giant Goldman Sachs. Of the 34 organisations that Rehn reports having met, the overwhelming majority – 22 (65%) – were not registered in the Transparency Register.*The Commission is convinced that there is no room for improvement in the transparency of its processes. At the dawn of Dalligate, a Commission spokesperson said “of course there are – following very clear practices and rules - contacts between stakeholders and Commissioners, that is normal practice”. And yet it is evident that these ‘very clear practices and rules’ do not include guidelines for Commissioners to refuse meeting unregistered lobbyists.The inevitable conclusion is that whilst the Commission maintains that the events around the Dalli case (which, they say, is closed) “show that the EU's anti-corruption system works”, the very opposite appears to be true. Dalligate is more than just a scandal about one Commissioner, one lobbyist and one tobacco company. Dalligate is a symptom of a wider problem.* This is based on a list of Commissioner Rehn’s meetings between January 2011 and February 2012, released to CEO by the Commission in September 2012 . The organisations met by Rehn were then cross-referenced with the organisations listed in the Transparency Register (accessed 30 October 2012). It should be noted that there is some ambiguity as to what were meetings (which the content of this list is entitled), as in one place the Commission uses the label “Meeting or Received Letter”.
 

Comments

Power corrupts, and as everyone knows, absolute power corrupts absolutely. The way things are going in Europe the European Commission is getting more powerful every day. No wonder that commissioners are delectable titbits for lobbyists.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

CEO presents some first reflections on the UK's vote for Brexit.

Think tanks work all around the institutions of the European Union but how they work and who they work with is often less clear. Our new report offers a closer look at these supposedly impartial hubs of expertise and highlights how the think-tank status has become a convenient vehicle for corporate lobbying activities.

The European Commission proposal on scientific criteria defining endocrine disruptors (EDCs) is the latest dangerous outgrowth of a highly toxic debate. The chemical lobby, supported by certain Commission factions (notably DG SANTE and the Secretary-General) and some member states (UK and Germany), has put significant obstacles in the way of effective public health and environment regulation.

In the run up to the UK referendum on EU membership on 23 June, Corporate Europe Observatory has tabled a series of freedom of information requests to find out how UK finance lobbies have been influencing the referendum negotiations and the Capital Markets Union. But the Brexit-Bremain referendum seems to be a freedom of information black hole.

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.

José Manuel Barroso's move to Goldman Sachs has catapulted the EU’s revolving door problem onto the political agenda. It is symbolic of the excessive corporate influence at the highest levels of the EU.

Corporate Europe Observatory, Friends of the Earth and LobbyControl today wrote to Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, calling on him to investigate Angelika Nieber MEP over a possible conflict of interest.

CEO presents some first reflections on the UK's vote for Brexit.

 
 
 
 
 
-- placeholder --
 
 
 

The corporate lobby tour