Corporate Europe Observatory

Exposing the power of corporate lobbying in the EU

Health and transparency NGOs demand Commission implements UN tobacco lobbying rules

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Transparency, public health and tobacco control NGOs have today written to EU Commission President Barroso to complain about Commission officials having undisclosed meetings with tobacco lobbyists, in violation of UN rules. The undisclosed meetings are particularly controversial in the context of the Dalligate tobacco lobbying scandal, which led to the resignation of Commissioner Dalli under unclear and contested circumstances. There is growing discontent with the Commission's handling of the case, including its refusal to answer key questions about what happened in the scandal.

The letter is a joint initiative of the Alliance for Lobby Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) -CEO is a member of this coalition-, Corporate Accountability International, European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) and the Smoke-Free Partnership. The NGOs call upon Barroso to ensure that the European Commission, as a whole, properly implements Article 5.3 of the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). This should include listing the meetings it has with tobacco industry lobbyists, and publishing the minutes of these meetings, online. Implementing the UN treaty's guidelines for interacting with tobacco industry interests also requires changes to the Code of Conduct for Commissioners, the Staff Regulations and the Transparency Register.

Beyond insisting that the Commission must implement its UN commitments for regulating contacts with tobacco lobbyists, ALTER-EU advocates a review of the Commission's rules around lobbying. Unfortunately the European Commission has so far rejected the need for better rules. Last month ALTER-EU received a very disappointing response to a letter sent to Commission President Barroso with proposals for improved transparency and ethics rules.

ALTER-EU reacted by launching an online petition to end the secrecy around “Dalligate” and improve lobbying transparency, which has so far been signed by more than 3,500 citizens from across Europe.

 

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There are daily meetings between the financial lobby and the Commission, and they’re mainly about issues crucial to society at large. Despite this, the public is only able to access piecemeal information on what is discussed, and even then with unacceptable delays. Given the huge impact the financial sector has had on society, keeping this lobbying behind closed doors is deeply problematic. Transparency reform is needed.
Multi-sectoral civil society coalition calls for greater protections for consumers, journalists, whistleblowers, researchers and workers.
NGOs have today responded to the Commission's reply to the European Ombudsman's recommendations on how to better handle revolving door cases within the Commission. In particular, they echo the demand for more transparency.
The European Commission directorate-general at the heart of the 'cash for influence' claims by UK MP Jack Straw (TAXUD - taxation and customs union), has now released to Corporate Europe Observatory information showing its lobby contacts in 2013 with the now disgraced ex-minister. The documents illustrate how Straw tried to use his influential name and impressive CV to help open lobby doors. They also expose the loopholes in EU lobby rules.

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