Corporate Europe Observatory

Exposing the power of corporate lobbying in the EU

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Investment rights stifle democracy

New rules due before the Parliament this week will allow investors from China, India or elsewhere to sue EU member states if they find that a law in the area of public health, environmental protection or social policy interferes with their profits. A new CEO report shows how law firms, industry and member states have manipulated the debate leading to the proposals and how a number of MEPs have tabled industry-biased amendments to prevent a more balanced investment regime. One of them is "Mr. cash-for-amendments" Pablo Zalba Bidegain.

Next week, MEPs are due to vote on a report from the Parliament’s international trade committee (INTA) about Europe’s international investment policy – giving guidelines for the rights of foreign investors under future EU trade deals. The vote follows fierce attempts by law firms, industry and member states to enshrine the right of foreign investors to challenge national laws that affect their profits. As a result, European member states could soon find domestic laws challenged by foreign companies – and politicians will have no powers to intervene.

The report due before the Parliament will effectively give the green light to a European Commission proposal to grant new privileges to foreign companies, allowing them to challenge policies from the local to the European level if they look like they might harm the profitability of a company's investments. The proposal threatens to take millions of Euros in legal expenses and compensation out of taxpayers’ pockets and interfere with the ability of European governments to legislate in the interests of their citizens. Yet the Commission is already integrating these new corporate rights into its planned free trade agreements with India, Canada and Singapore.

At the same time, INTA is also discussing a report on the future of the over 1,200 existing investment treaties of EU member states, which give similarly sweeping rights to foreign investors.

In both cases the European People’s Party (EPP) has been campaigning against any attempt to rectify the current unbalanced investment regime and impose social and environmental obligations on investors. Several EPP MEPs have tabled amendments which appear to have come from outside the Parliament, making the original draft report more investor-friendly. Among them is the Spanish MEP Pablo Zalba Bidegain, who was the fourth MEP to be caught accepting cash in return for amending laws by undercover journalists. EPP members Daniel Caspary, Godelieve Quisthoudt-Rowohl (both Germany), Christofer Fjellner (Sweden) and Emilio Menéndez del Valle from the Socialists and Democrats (Spain) have also proposed changes that are strikingly in line with industry demands.

The EPP’s attack follows a misleading lobby campaign by EU member states, law firms and industry lobby groups including BusinessEurope and the European Services Forum. They have misled MEPs with claims that are either unsubstantiated or have been contradicted by evidence, and have withheld crucial information about the immense legal, budgetary and policy risks created by investment agreements.

Read the full CEO report:

Next week, MEPs are due to vote on a report from the Parliament’s international trade committee (INTA) about Europe’s international investment policy – giving guidelines for the rights of foreign investors under future EU trade deals. The vote follows fierce attempts by law firms, industry and member states to enshrine the right of foreign investors to challenge national laws that affect their profits. As a result, European member states could soon find domestic laws challenged by foreign companies – and politicians will have no powers to intervene.The report due before the Parliament will effectively give the green light to a European Commission proposal to grant new privileges to foreign companies, allowing them to challenge policies from the local to the European level if they look like they might harm the profitability of a company's investments. The proposal threatens to take millions of Euros in legal expenses and compensation out of taxpayers’ pockets and interfere with the ability of European governments to legislate in the interests of their citizens. Yet the Commission is already integrating these new corporate rights into its planned free trade agreements with India, Canada and Singapore.At the same time, INTA is also discussing a report on the future of the over 1,200 existing investment treaties of EU member states, which give similarly sweeping rights to foreign investors.In both cases the European People’s Party (EPP) has been campaigning against any attempt to rectify the current unbalanced investment regime and impose social and environmental obligations on investors. Several EPP MEPs have tabled amendments which appear to have come from outside the Parliament, making the original draft report more investor-friendly. Among them is the Spanish MEP Pablo Zalba Bidegain, who was the fourth MEP to be caught accepting cash in return for amending laws by undercover journalists. EPP members Daniel Caspary, Godelieve Quisthoudt-Rowohl (both Germany), Christofer Fjellner (Sweden) and Emilio Menéndez del Valle from the Socialists and Democrats (Spain) have also proposed changes that are strikingly in line with industry demands.The EPP’s attack follows a misleading lobby campaign by EU member states, law firms and industry lobby groups including BusinessEurope and the European Services Forum. They have misled MEPs with claims that are either unsubstantiated or have been contradicted by evidence, and have withheld crucial information about the immense legal, budgetary and policy risks created by investment agreements.Read the full CEO report:
 

LEt’s kick Big Oil and Gas out of EU and UN climate policy. sign the petition now!

Over 450 public interest groups from across Europe and Canada today published an open letter urging legislators to vote against the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). They joined forces to defend people and planet against the threats posed by the EU-Canada agreement.

Report

The great CETA swindle

The EU-Canada trade deal CETA continues to draw heavy criticism. Behind the PR attempts to sell it as a progressive agreement - including recent declarations designed to reassure critics and gain support for its ratification - CETA remains what it always has been: an attack on democracy, workers, and the environment. It would be a major mistake to ratify it.

There are many potential winners of the awards for the worst lobbyist on TTIP, probably the most corporate dominated trade negotiations in history.
Business lobby groups are pushing hard for investor-state dispute settlement in TTIP and similar trade deals. If successful, this would expand the ability of corporations to sue governments in response to policies that allegedly limit their profits. Especially laws to protect human health and the environment would be on the line.

In the last years, controversies around the financialisation of nature and the concept of natural capital have fuelled divisions within civil society.

Over 450 public interest groups from across Europe and Canada today published an open letter urging legislators to vote against the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). They joined forces to defend people and planet against the threats posed by the EU-Canada agreement.

8 November 2016 saw the annual lobby fest between the Commission and BusinessEurope. Lasting for over seven hours, attracting four commissioners and the secretary-general, as well as 26 major corporate interests (who between them spend over €31,789,000 a year on EU lobbying), this is exclusive, privileged access at its most extreme.

New analysis of lobby meetings shows that EU Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete and his colleague Maroš Šefčovič, Vice President for the Energy Union, have overwhelmingly met corporate lobbyists, rather than public interest groups.

 
 
 
 
 
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The corporate lobby tour