EU sponsorship

Civil society organisations urge EU governments to end corporate sponsorship deals during Council presidencies

Brussels/Amsterdam/Berlin/Paris/Lisbon, 03 March 2021: Three European civil society organisations (foodwatch, Corporate Europe Observatory, and Climáximo) have strongly criticised the ongoing practice of major companies sponsoring EU Council presidencies.

The groups ask the current Portuguese EU Council Presidency, led by Prime Minister António Costa, and the EU ambassadors from the 27 member states, to put in place a clear ban on such sponsorships to ensure that potential conflicts of interest are avoided. The organisations have today launched an online petition.

Dirty energy, junk food manufacturers, big tech, and elite car companies have been sponsoring the EU Council Presidency for years and this dubious practice continues today. There can be no place for such sponsorships,” says Vicky Cann, campaigner for Corporate Europe Observatory, a Brussels-based non-profit research and campaign group.

The current EU Council Presidency, the Portuguese Government, has recently signed sponsorship deals with Sumol + Compal, the distributor of PepsiCo in Portugal, as well as with The Navigator Company, a paper products company associated with monoculture plantations and forest fires in Portugal, as well as land-grabbing in Mozambique,“ adds Manuel Araújo from Climáximo, a Portuguese climate justice organisation.

It is completely unacceptable that EU governments are signing sponsorship deals with companies, many of whom have ambitious EU lobbying agendas, and whose products are in direct contradiction to the policies that are being developed,” continues Manuel Araújo from Climáximo.

The EU Green Deal, Farm to Fork Strategy, and the EU Cancer Plan all recognise that what we consume has direct effects on health and the environment – and yet companies producing sugar-filled soft drinks are being actively promoted by our decision-makers,” adds Suzy Sumner, campaigner for the European consumer organisation foodwatch.

Last year, a foodwatch complaint to the European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly was a success: she agreed that these deals with companies were a reputational risk to the EU and that guidelines should be put in place. But six months on, the 27 member state governments have still not agreed the guidelines and seem set on weakening the already-problematic proposal that is on the table. The weak guidelines are due to be discussed at a meeting of the EU ambassadors in the Council, COREPER.

Corporate Europe Observatory, Climáximo, and foodwatch are calling on the Prime Minister of the current EU Council Presidency, António Costa of Portugal, and all member states’ ambassadors to the EU to do the right thing and ban all future sponsorship deals.

It is simple: The only guideline needed is no sponsorship deals between governments holding the EU Council Presidency and companies,” concludes Suzy Sumner for foodwatch.

Notes for editors:

Press contacts:

  • Suzy Sumner, foodwatch, suzy.sumner@foodwatch.eu, +32 485 194486 
  • foodwatch is a European non-profit consumer organisation that has been fighting for safe, healthy and affordable food for all people since 2002. foodwatch operates at the national and European levels and has offices in Germany, France and the Netherlands. More about foodwatch: www.foodwatch.org/en/about-foodwatch/
  • Vicky Cann, Corporate Europe Observatory, vicky@corporateeurope.org, +44 7960 988096
  • 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. https://corporateeurope.org/en