EPACA complaint against CEO dismissed

Brussels 30 March 2010 – Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) has welcomed the European Commission’s decision [1] to dismiss a complaint filed by the lobbying consultancies' association EPACA alleging that CEO had breached the European Commission's Code of Conduct for Interest Representatives [2].

The Commission rejected EPACA's complaint about the behaviour of CEO employee David Leloup in an email exchange with Burson Marsteller chairman Robert Mack because the code of conduct only covers contacts between lobbyists (‘interest representatives') and the EU institutions. As Corporate Europe Observatory has argued, EPACA's complaint was also ill-founded in terms of substance [3]. Leloup, a registered journalist who is employed part-time by CEO for investigative journalistic work, did not hide his affiliation with CEO in his contact with Mack, as is evident from the email correspondence between the two [4].

In its complaint, EPACA also accused CEO of making a inaccurate entry in the Commission's Register of Interest Representatives. The Commission judges that EPACA did not provide "any material element which could substantiate that the declaration made by CEO in the registration could be false", rendering the complaint "inadmissible".

The Commission’s decision confirms our assessment that EPACA's complaint against CEO was an ill-founded and desperate attempt to ward off tighter transparency and ethics rules for EU lobbyists.

Erik Wesselius, speaking for CEO said:

“We are obviously very pleased that the Commission has dismissed the complaint made by EPACA, which appears to have been a desperate attempt to damage CEO's reputation. It is probably no coincidence that this happened just as the European Parliament and the Commission are about to restart negotiations over a joint register, which could see all EPACA members forced to register and increased transparency. EPACA has been trying to block such moves. Perhaps it will now see fit to get its own house in order and encourage its members to register their activities in the EU register.”

Contact:
Erik Wesselius, +31-30-2364422 / +32-476-90158
Olivier Hoedeman: +32-2-8930930

Notes:

  1. Gérard Legris, Complaint for alleged breach of the Code of conduct of interest representatives, email to CEO, 29 March 2010.
  2. European Commission, Code of Conduct for Interest Representatives, last accessed 29 March 2010.
  3. Corporate Europe Observatory, Corporate Europe Observatory responds to EPACA's allegations, 29 March 2010.
  4. David Leloup (CEO), correspondence with Robert Mack (Burson Marsteller), 8 March 2010.