Oil-linked group's EU influencing exposed

Corporate Europe Observatory complains to EU institutions

Corporate Europe Observatory has today complained to the three EU institutions about the influencing activities of the US-based Consumer Choice Center. The pressure group has links to a network of fossil fuel-funded think tanks and advocacy groups, and is active in the Brussels Bubble, opposing climate-friendly measures such as the phase-out of petrol cars and green farming reforms, despite being removed from the EU lobby register over a year ago.

Last week Desmog published a powerful analysis of the Consumer Choice Center (CCC). While the CCC says it  “represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe”, it promotes a libertarian agenda far more in tune with corporate interests than those of consumers and citizens bearing the brunt of the climate and toxics crises.

Desmog explored CCC's influencing to oppose EU plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035, and its critique of targets to increase organic farming and reduce chemical pesticides and fertiliser use. Desmog argued that CCC campaigns have also "seemingly sought to turn public opinion against net zero pollution reduction targets".

According to the article, CCC lists over 60 staff members and says that it has previously been funded by the energy, chemical, and airlines industries, although it does not publish its current sources of finance. Corporate Europe Observatory has also been highly critical of CCC's stance on many issues.

Unregistered lobbying

The CCC used to be registered in the EU lobby transparency register (its previous registration is available in the LobbyFacts archive). However it was removed from the register in May 2022 after a quality check by the register secretariat. New disclosure rules were introduced last year requiring more transparency over funding sources.

This case demonstrates many of the problems with the existing EU (voluntary) lobby register and why only a legally-binding lobby register can hope to tackle unregistered EU lobbying. Despite no longer being part of the current lobby register, this has not affected the CCC’s ability to be active, trying to influence policy debates in the EU Brussels bubble. Since May 2022, according to Desmog, it has written almost 50 articles for media outlets on EU issues. According to the CCC website, it was also apparently “appointed by MEPs for Innovation, Brands and Intellectual Property” to provide secretarial support to MEPs4Innovation. The CCC even displays the European Parliament’s logo on its website.

Today Corporate Europe Observatory has written to the European Commission, European Parliament, and the EU Council to complain about the CCC and to urge investigations into its activities. It's long overdue to tackle untransparent and problematic interference in EU decision-making.

UPDATE 7 AUGUST 2023: The lobby register secretariat has replied, on behalf of the European Commission, following our complaint about the CCC. It said: "In view of other interest representation activities Consumer Choice Center might engage in, as referred to in your letter, I will invite the organisation concerned to provide an explanation and submit a new application to register such activities, where relevant, in the Transparency Register in a comprehensive and transparent manner."

UPDATE 31 OCTOBER 2023: The President of the European Parliament has now written in response to our complaint about the CCC, indicating that she has asked parliamentary authorities to "look into the Consumer Choice Center's website".  

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