Corporate Europe Observatory

Exposing the power of corporate lobbying in the EU

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Agribusiness is the biggest lobbyist on the EU-US trade deal, new research reveals

No sector has lobbied the European Commission more during the preparation phase for the negotiations on the proposed EU-US trade deal (TTIP) than the agribusiness sector, according to data published today by Corporate Europe Observatory in a series of research-based infographics. Food multinationals, agri-traders and seed producers have had more contacts with the Commission’s trade department (DG Trade) than lobbyists from the pharmaceutical, chemical, financial and car industry put together.

The infographics reveal a dramatic business-bias in the Commission’s consultation policy around this giant trade deal. Of the 560 lobby encounters that DG Trade held to prepare the negotiations, 520 (92 per cent) were with business lobbyists, while only 26 (four per cent) were with public interest groups. So, for every encounter with a trade union or consumer group, there were 20 with companies and industry federations. The data covers contributions to the Commission’s public consultations, public stakeholder meetings and lobby meetings behind closed doors.
 

Pia Eberhardt, trade campaigner with Corporate Europe Observatory said: “DG Trade actively involved business lobbyists in drawing up the EU position for TTIP while keeping 'pesky' trade unionists and other public interest groups at bay. The result is a big-business-first agenda for the negotiations which endangers many achievements that people in Europe have long struggled for, from food safety rules to environmental protection.”

While the European Commission has claimed publicly that the trade deal will not threaten European rules on food and environmental safety, an analysis of the key tools and principles in the negotiations, also published today, shows that TTIP could lead to precisely that.

Nina Holland, agribusiness campaigner with Corporate Europe Observatory said: “Agribusiness lobbies such as the pesticide industry have strongly pushed their agenda via the TTIP negotiations with the aim of undermining current EU food regulations. Trade tools such as “mutual recognition” and “regulatory co-operation” are likely to lead to an erosion of food safety standards in the long run. The industry is also trying to use TTIP to derail important EU initiatives such as the one to deal with endocrine disrupting chemicals.”

The infographics also shine a light on other economic sectors that were lobbying actively in the preparatory phase of the TTIP negotiations, including telecommunications and IT, auto industry, engineering, as well as the chemical sector.

Overall, the data suggest that the agenda-setting for TTIP has been largely driven by businesses with headquarters in the US, Germany and the UK and by industry lobby groups organised on the EU level such as the European employers’ federation BusinessEurope and the European Services Forum, a lobby outfit of large services companies such as Deutsche Bank and TheCity UK. Companies from Greece and large parts of Eastern Europe were entirely absent from the corporate lobby push for TTIP, suggesting that businesses in the poorer EU countries have little to gain from this trade deal.

The data also reveals that more than 30 per cent (94 out of 269) of the private sector interest groups that have lobbied DG Trade on TTIP are absent from the EU’s Transparency Register, among them large companies such as Walmart, Walt Disney, General Motors, France Telecom and Maersk. Some of the industry associations lobbying hardest for TTIP such as the US Chamber of Commerce and the Transatlantic Business Council are also lobbying under the radar of the lobby register.

Link to infographics: "Who lobbies most on TTIP?"

Link to "TTIP: A lose-lose deal for food and farming"

 

Corporate Europe Observatory's new report 'A spoonful of sugar' illustrates how the sugar lobby undermines existing laws and fights off much-needed measures that are vital for tackling Europe’s looming obesity crisis.

This week's European Commission decision to extend Glyphosate's market authorisation points to many broader problems - here is a CEO overview of the issues at large.

The official EU assessment of glyphosate was based on unpublished studies owned by industry. Seven months later, the pesticide industry still fights disclosure and, so far, successfully. We obtained a copy of their arguments.

In recent times we have seen various examples of green activists “coming out” as GMO-proponents, arguing that GMOs are safe and have multiple benefits: reduced pesticide use, higher income for farmers, contributing to food security, reduced greenhouse gas emissions... As an essential part of their discourse, organisations that continue to reject GMO technology are depicted as old-fashioned and as acting in contradiction to their own aims.

Mark Lynas is a well known example of this in the UK, with an (in)famous public apology for his past role in the anti-GM movement that drew a lot of media attention. Lynas' move has been copied by others, like blogger Stijn Bruers in Belgium. This framing of the GMO debate has proven quite attractive to the media, even though it is not always clear why specifically these people are seen to have the credentials to merit this attention.

There are many fundamental flaws in the argumentation they are putting forward. Claire Robinson of GMWatch, at the request of Corporate Europe Observatory, has written a rebuttal of many of the claims made by these newly converted GMO proponents. For practical reasons, this rebuttal follows the argumentation and claims made in an article by Bruers on his blog about GMOs .

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.

Never before has a former European Commission official been criticised as much for his post-EU career as ex-Commission president Barroso upon joining infamous US investment bank Goldman Sachs this summer. Citizens are outraged and evidence already points towards a gross violation of the EU Treaty.

Following the high-level appointment of former European Commission President José Manuel Barroso to Goldman Sachs, NGOs have launched a petition demanding stricter rules for ex-EU commissioners’ revolving door moves.

Corporate Europe Observatory's new report 'A spoonful of sugar' illustrates how the sugar lobby undermines existing laws and fights off much-needed measures that are vital for tackling Europe’s looming obesity crisis.

 
 
 
 
 
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The corporate lobby tour