• Dansk
  • NL
  • EN
  • FI
  • FR
  • DE
  • EL
  • IT
  • NO
  • PL
  • PT
  • RO
  • SL
  • ES
  • SV

JEFTA: An exclusive trade between EU negotiators and big business

Since December 2017, the European Commission has been running a race against time. Its trade department is doing its best to fast-track the approval of a trade deal between the European Union and Japan.

While the deal is officially called the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, the nature of the agreement is far from a genuine partnership: Many interest groups, in Japan and in the EU, have not had an equal say in the negotiations of this deal.

The negotiations for the Japan-EU free trade deal started in March 2013 and concluded in December 2017. Commission files obtained via freedom of information requests show that between January 2014 and January 2017, the European Commission’s trade department (DG Trade) had 213 closed-door meetings with lobbyists to discuss the negotiations.

190 of those meetings (89%) were with business lobbyists while only 9 (4%) were with public interest groups like NGOs, farmers’ unions and consumer groups. No meetings at all were held with representatives of trade unions or with federations of small and medium-sized enterprises, and the remaining 7% of meetings were with other actors such as public institutions and thinks tanks. (Check the full data set and how we gathered it here).

When Corporate Europe Observatory tried to obtain a similar list of meetings for the year 2017, DG Trade refused to publish this information, arguing that the necessary work to provide this list would be too “burdensome” and that the Commission is devoting all of its resources to concluding the negotiations with Japan.

The corporate lobby groups which had by far the most encounters with DG Trade during the negotiations of the trade deal between Japan and the EU (January 2014 until January 2017) are:

  • BusinessEurope, the European employers’ federation and one of the most powerful lobby groups in the EU
  • European Services Forum, a lobby group of large services companies
  • CEEV, the lobby group representing the European and international wine sector. It represents more than 7.000 companies.
  • ACEA, the European car lobby
  • BDI, the Federation of German Industries, the most powerful voice of German businesses in Brussels

These figures reveal the strong bias of EU trade deals: Big companies are driving the negotiations, shaping the rules for global trade however they need to maximise profits.. The winners take it all. As for the others? With their voices sidelined during trade negotiations, the interests of consumers, blue-collar workers, environmental campaigners and small and medium-sized enterprises are of little consequence to the European Commission, it seems.

The EU refers to a EU-Japan trade partnership. But looking at who they partner with to facilitate the deal, the only genuine partnership developing is that between EU negotiators and multinational corporations.

 

 

Tags: 

Comments

Submitted by Alfredo (not verified) on

Thank you for working hard to show us the real face of the EU.
The question is one.

How can we citizen help?
If our voices are not represented in the EU decision making processes what can we do beside becoming Eurosceptic?

I personally disagree with the way the EU is softly but surely forcing EU countries to adopt corporate-friendly trade deals, policies and regulations also by forcing countries to adopt stringent budget cuts in the mane of balancing national debt.
It reminds me of IMF policies during the 1990s.

Greece is paying with lives the EU imposed austerity regime. It is disgraceful.
We (the EU and Germany) lend you more money but you (Greece) have to sell or lease for many years all your most valuable assets to us. Assets that could have generated revenues for a long time if managed well but now sold or leased to foreign interest for peanuts. Like the 14 airports given to Germany.

I am not happy nor proud to be into the EU because it is not a democratic project. Fact speaks loud. And we cannot do much to change it.

So can we do to change this?

Cheers
Alfredo

Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Get our monthly newsletter

Follow us on social media

Industry lobbyists are spending millions of euros to influence an upcoming EU decision on labelling titanium dioxide – found in everyday products like sunscreen – a “suspected carcinogen”. The lobbying is led by an unregistered trade association and a public relations consultancy; nonetheless, they appear to have the ear of member states and the European Commission.

We pay our taxes, so why don’t corporations? The Big Four are embedded in EU policy-making on tax avoidance and this report concludes that it is time to kick this industry out of EU anti-tax avoidance policy.

A new report from CEO and TNI exposes how the little-known but expanding Energy Charter Treaty gives corporations the power to halt the energy transition. And how it is being expanded, threatening to bind yet more countries to corporate-friendly energy policies.

The European Commission rebranded AirBnB lobbying documents as ‘commercial secrets’ and therefore denied public access. After eight months of wrangling over their release, Corporate Europe Observatory can report the documents show that AirBnB and similar rental platforms are attacking measures used by cities to protect affordable housing.

Lobby Planet 2017 banner