How vulnerable are the EU institutions to undue corporate influence, and what gaps exist in EU lobbying and ethics rules?
Secretive lobbying, excessive corporate influence on EU decision-making and other concerns about the role of lobbying in Brussels have become a major theme in the European Parliament election debates in Austria, Denmark and Germany and – to a lesser extent – Spain, Italy and other European countries. In this first of a series of blogs we zoom in on the debates in Denmark and Austria.
The final version of the Tobacco Product Directive has just come into force. With the European Parliament elections approaching we look back at the lobbying battle around this directive and provide, for the first time, online access to (parts of) tobacco giant Philip Morris' leaked lobby strategy documents. We also offer a list of the ten MEPs from the current Parliament who have – according to the leaked documents – the strongest relations to Philip Morris.
Corporate Europe Observatory has gathered a lot of evidence over time and covering many different areas that shows how the Commission is easily captured by corporate interests. This report is an attempt to produce a condensed version of how the Commission has come to act on behalf of corporations over the past five years, focusing on climate policies, agriculture and food, finance, economic, and fiscal policies.
Three years after the cash-for-amendments scandal, the lack of enforcement of the European Parliament ethics rules leaves the integrity and the credibility of the Parliament at risk, warned transparency campaigners today.
There is a major controversy running in the Czech Republic right now over who will become the country's candidate for the next European Commission. One of two candidates who have a chance is Pavel Telička. Telička is also the lead candidate for the European Parliament elections for the ANO Movement, the party of billionaire business tycoon Andrej Babis (often referred to as the Czech Berlusconi). Telička's candidacy has been criticised by other parties because he is a lobbyist.
According to several EU sources, member states’ diplomats in the Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper) this morning pre-selected a food industry lobbyist to become a member of the board of the EU Food Safety Authority (EFSA). This is Mr Jan Mousing, a director at the Danish Agriculture & Food Council, a lobby group representing the interests of the Danish food industry.
At the end of May the whole of Europe will be going to the ballot box for the 2014 European Parliament elections. But when the votes are counted and members-to-be (MEPs) take their place, who are they going to represent – people or profit?
In the run-up to the European elections in late May, many members of the European Parliament (MEPs) will be considering their future careers. If experiences from the end of the previous parliamentary term in 2009 are any indication, many will be approached by lobby firms and industry groups hoping to entice them through the revolving door: the route from the European Parliament to Brussels' for-profit lobby circles is a well-trodden path.
The issue of 'competitiveness' will be dominating the discussions at the European Council Summit that takes place on 20-21 March. An important theme for big business as measures in this field are, while attacking citizen's rights, generally in line with industry's interests. Therefore, in the past months, major industry lobby groups ERT and BusinessEurope have been bent on exerting their influence on the agenda and discussions of first the Competitiveness Council meeting and then the EU Summit – and seem to have succeeded.
A discreet but important lobbying battle is currently being fought in Brussels over the labelling of nano ingredients in food products. A European Commission text would completely betray a 2011 regulation by only labelling new additives. The Parliament is attempting to block their text which waters down the label requirements, while the food additives industry is lobbying to stop the Parliament; the vote is 12 March.
The story of the Pioneer GM maize crop has culminated in the biggest controversy on genetic modification (GM) issues in years. On Tuesday 11 February a record number of 19 EU countries declared themselves to be opposed to Pioneer's GM maize being authorised for cultivation in the EU. This included the Netherlands, Romania and Ireland, all of whom were expected to either vote in favour or abstain just before the vote. Only five countries said they were in favour (among them the UK, Spain and Sweden) and the rest abstained.
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