Ombudsman opens investigation into industry-dominated 'fracking Expert Group
The European Ombudsman has opened a case on the European Commission's industry-dominated Expert Group on the risky and dangerous practice of 'fracking for natural gas.
Despite massive public opposition to 'fracking, the Commission established the 'European Science and Technology Network on Unconventional Hydrocarbon Extraction' with a mandate to recommend the most appropriate fracking techniques and technologies for Europe.
However, research by Corporate Europe Observatory and Friends of the Earth Europe shows that of the network's members who do not work for the Commission, more than 70% either represent or have direct financial links to the fracking industry, while all four chairs and co-chairs of working groups are fracking proponents and have even lobbied against tougher regulations.
Putting such vested interests in charge of deeming which fracking techniques are most 'appropriate' for the EU is only going to serve the interests of a floundering industry, not the 500 million Europeans who will have to suffer the consequences.
The Ombudsman's investigation, announced over the summer, follows a complaint by Corporate Europe Observatory and Friends of the Earth Europe, which calls on the Expert Group to follow the Commission rules for balance and conflict of interest.
However, the Commission denies the network is an Expert Group, despite its clear advisory role, and dismisses any worry with regards to balance. If the groups is not formally recognised as an Expert Group and made to conform to the existing rules, then both organisations have called for it to be scrapped.
Industry-domination of Expert Groups has been an on-going problem which the European Commission has been reluctant to tackle, leading the Ombudsman to launch her own investigation into the issue. The Commission has already responded to the preliminary findings, but the final recommendations are expected soon.
The Ombudsman has given the Commission until the 30th November to respond, the same day that this year's UN climate talks are set to begin in Paris.
The EU is presenting itself as a climate hero on the international stage, but this is one of many recent examples underlining the excessive influence of big polluters over policy.
CEO will be working between now and this December's climate talks to expose this cosy relationship and fight to kick big polluters out of climate policy and of the climate talks.