How vulnerable are the EU institutions to undue corporate influence, and what gaps exist in EU lobbying and ethics rules?
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.
Huge unclarity remains about what was actually decided last week about the future of the EU's lobby transparency register at the final meeting of the group of MEPs and Commission officials tasked with reviewing the register.
After the interinstitutional EP-EC working group on the review of the EU lobby Transparency Register had its closing meeting, there is confusion over outcome of EP-EC working group. Was agreement reached between MEPs and Commissioner Šefčovič on making the register mandatory or not?
In the light of the clear risks which the TTIP talks pose to environmental and health protection, it is crucial that the EU's lobby transparency register helps create full visibility around industry lobbying of TTIP talks. Only a mandatory register which requires comprehensive and reliable information about lobbying will shed light on corporate lobby pressure on the TTIP talks.
Law firms are campaigning for exemptions to the EU lobby register and it looks very much as if Commissioner Šefčovič and Rainer Wieland MEP are keen to help them out.
Is the Commission right to be jubilant about the latest report on the EU Transparency Register? CEO says no, as hundreds of companies and lobby groups actively lobbying to influence EU decision-making, continue to boycott the register.
Amazon, also known for tax evasion and abominable working conditions, is one of a large number of companies that exploit the EU’s weak lobby transparency rules. The company is lobbying heavily to influence decision-making in Brussels but refuses to sign up to the Transparency Register for lobbyists, which is voluntary rather than mandatory.
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