How vulnerable are the EU institutions to undue corporate influence, and what gaps exist in EU lobbying and ethics rules?
At the moment, too many European citizens feel alienated from the decisions made in Brussels. And that is not surprising. Big corporations, lobby consultancies and law firms spend hundreds of millions of euros every year to ensure that EU policy-making meets the needs of big business and not the public interest – and it works.
While Commissioner De Gucht claims that “there is nothing secret” about the ongoing EU-US trade talks, notes of Commission meetings with business lobbyists released to CEO under the EU’s freedom of information law were heavily censored.
A new tool for smartphones offers you a quick virtual lobby tour around the EU bubble in Brussels. CounterBalance and Corporate Europe Observatory have created this virtual trip to the EU quarter, a real lobbying paradise and home of a 30.000 man strong lobby army.
Transparency campaigners cannot find a single area of “good progress” made by the review group to improve the EU’s lobby register, according to a scorecard published today by ALTER-EU. The scorecard assesses the outcome of the recent EU Transparency Register review process against ALTER-EU's own recommendations for reform. The assessment has been made after receiving leaked copies of the final outcome of the review process.
The Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) has today urged President Barroso to put in place new rules to prevent the current crop of European commissioners from going through the revolving door in 2014. As the Barroso II Commission nears the end of its term in office, transparency campaigners believe that the cooling-off period which applies to former commissioners taking on lobby jobs should be extended from 18 months to three years to prevent a repeat of the conflict of interest scandals which dogged the end of the Barroso I Commission.
In 2010 when the Barroso I Commission left office, there was a public outcry when six out of the 13 departing commissioners went almost immediately into the corporate sector or lobby jobs, provoking the risk of possible conflicts of interest. Now in 2014, CEO has looked again at these six former commissioners to see what lessons can be learnt as the Barroso II Commission prepares to leave office later this year.
Commissioner Barnier has surprisingly announced a temporary ban on meetings with the financial lobby. An important and telling step, but more is needed if the objective is to curb the lobbying power of the banks.
Faced with the threat of a highly critical verdict from the European Ombudsman just before Christmas, the Commission quietly smuggled out an announcement that a controversial appointee to its ethics committee had been replaced, presumably hoping to take the sting out of what could have been a very uncomfortable media tale for the Commission. Afterall, it is not every day that the Commission's position is called “inconceivable and naïve” by another EU institution.
Two new revolving door cases published today by Corporate Europe Observatory illustrate how the revolving door continues to spin between the EU institutions and the corporate sector, and how the EU needs a far tougher approach to tackling potential conflicts of interest.
On 7 October, the second round of negotiations for a far-reaching transatlantic trade deal will begin in Brussels. Amidst calls for greater openness and public participation, the European Commission has gone into propaganda mode, promoting myths about the transparency and accountability of the talks. See through its feel-good rhetoric with Corporate Europe Observatory’s myth-busting guide to secrecy, corporate influence and lack of accountability in the transatlantic trade negotiations.
With a new directive on tobacco being passed and the negotiations for a trade deal with the US getting started, 2013 has seen intense lobbying battles and CEO has been following them closely. The ban on some bee-killing pesticides, the investment arbitration boom and conflicts of interests at the European Food Safety Authority have also been among the hottest issues in CEO's research and campaigning work. Here are the most read stories this year, according to our website statistics. Have you missed any of them?
Yesterday (19 December 2013) the Ombudsman published a damning report into the European Commission's re-appointment of a lawyer with links to the tobacco industry to its ad hoc ethical committee. Here NGOs comment on the ruling which could set an important precedent on handling possible conflicts of interest in the future.
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