Dear friend, supporter and ally,

We don’t know about you, but we feel 2019 is going to be a busy year. Here are some of the things we have already been up to in these first few months:

* we’ve taken an in-depth look into how Member States act as middlemen for corporate lobbies in the EU;

* we’re investigating how repressive regimes like Saudi Arabia are using lobby consultancies to clean up their image; and

* we’ve analysed the comeback of TTIP, and looked at the interest groups shaping the new EU-US trade talks (spoiler alert: 90% are corporate).

Scroll down to catch up with our latest work and to meet our new colleagues, Karin and Luisa!

But it’s only February. And there’s still so much to be done!

2019 will be no ordinary year. The upcoming European elections could mark a turning point in the way some of today’s biggest challenges are tackled: from the climate crisis demanding immediate action, and the rise of the far right threatening our liberties and democratic values, to the parallel justice system of Investor-State Dispute Settlement putting corporate profits before people and planet.

In this political climate, we believe it absolutely essential to push for progressive change and thoroughly investigate, expose and challenge the way corporate power and Big Business lobbies are shaping the EU’s responses and solutions to our problems. But for us to be able to do this work, we need your support.

Your donations make it possible for us do our work; they also allow us to stay independent, as we do not take any money from corporations, from the EU, or from any government. Big or small – every donation helps and means the world to us.

And, of course, please continue to read our work and spread the word!

On behalf of the whole CEO team, thank you very much for your support,


(CEO's Outreach Organiser)

Captured States

Earlier this week, the problem of EU presidencies receiving corporate sponsorship hit the headlines in a big way: the sponsorship agreement between soft drink giant Coca Cola and the current Romanian EU Presidency attracted criticism from NGOs and journalists alike and even led to a series of Parliamentary questions in the Dutch Parliament. Next up for the EU Presidency are Finland (July – December 2019), Croatia (January – June 2020) and Germany (July – December 2020) - we’ll stay on the ball.

Our latest big report on “Captured States” already features this corporate sponsorship issue as one of many examples and helped to put it on the agenda: Member states play a hugely important role in EU decision-making, but they often act as as a channel for corporate interests. The report combines case studies, original research, and analysis to illustrate the depth of the problem – and what you can do about it.

Lobbies ❤️ vetoes

The controversial reform of the EU’s Services Directive (also known as the “Bolkestein Directive”) turns out to be even more concerning than previously thought: we obtained a big number of new documents, which show the breadth of services affected by the proposed Services Notification Procedure and reveal the heavy influence of big business lobbies over the proposal.

At the end of February, CEO and Copenhagen City Counciler Ulrik Kohl sent an open letter to the EU Commission to . On behalf of 12 other organisations, we expressed our grave concerns over the EU Commission’s failureed to balance stakeholder input when preparing the proposal and violated its own transparency requirements for public consultations throughout the process – it still has not published any of the stakeholder feedback it received.

New EU-US trade talks

Yes, TTIP is back – in a way. Two years after the suspension of the highly controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, EU member states and the European Commission are preparing for new trade negotiations with the US. But not much has changed: once again, corporate lobby groups already dominate lobby meetings with EU decision-makers, hoping to set the agenda for the talks. Und falls Sie unseren neuen Artikel lieber auf Deutsch lesen möchten, bitte hier entlang.

And while the EU Commission is refusing to hand over any notes from these lobby meetings, there is one thing we already know: ‘TTIP Reloaded’ could mean EU and national politicians will break their promise to only do trade deals with states that are Paris Agreement signatories. Trump plans for the US to exit the deal.

Lobbying for Saudi Arabia

There can be few more controversial clients for a lobbying consultancy than the regime of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. No surprise, then, that a Brussels-based lobbying firm has been less than forthcoming about its representation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. But now Corporate Europe Observatory lifts the lid on the company lobbying on behalf of this repressive regime.

Investor privileges VS people & planet

Companies sue governments that dare to stand up to their power. It sounds dystopian but is sadly true: under the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) system, corporations have already sued countries for anything from introducing health warnings on cigarettes to placing a moratorium on fracking. Citizens, campaigners (including us here at CEO!) and social movements are uniting in 2019 to put an end to this parallel justice system for big business. More than half a million people from across the EU have already signed the Stop ISDS petition, calling on governments to protect rights for people and enforce rules for corporations. You, too, can sign and help amplify the demand to end these corporate privileges.

For more information on ISDS, we have put together this straightforward "What is What" on Investor-State Dispute Settlement - and why it's so dangerous. And you can also take a look at the most important CEO research on ISDS.

New faces in our Brussels office

To help us make the most of the opportunities ahead, we now have two brilliant new colleagues who joined the team in February: Karin has replaced Nic as our office manager and Luísa is taking on the brand new role of Outreach Organiser and Fundraiser, looking after CEO’s relationship with our supporters, followers and the interested public online and offline.




We are a small team that works completely independently of funding from

the EU, governments, political parties and corporations.

Your donation, big or small, recurring or once-off, helps us fight the hold

of Big Business over the EU.