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Chris Davies

Former employer: 
European Parliament
Former function: 
Member of the European Parliament (for 15 years)
New function: 
Director
New employer: 
Chris Davies Ltd
Nationality: 
UK
Policy area: 
Date of Revolving Door: 
December, 2014
Institutional reaction: 

None. There is no regulation requiring former MEPs to seek authorisation for their subsequent activities.

Other info: 

Chris Davies was a prominent Liberal Democrat MEP until he lost his seat in the 2014 European elections. He was a member of the committee on Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy (ENVI) for the full 15 years of his career as an MEP. The ENVI committee is influential in the development of all EU environmental regulations; it is where reports are drafted, amendments made, text changed, and compromises made.

Carbon capture and storage (CCS)

Davies is an ardent supporter of action to tackle climate change. He is also widely known as a strong advocate of carbon capture and storage (CCS), an experimental technology that seeks to bury the carbon dioxide produced from the fossil fuels used in electricity generation and industrial processes. CCS attracts the support of many major energy companies, as a look at the membership list of the Carbon Capture and Storage Association indicates: BP, Chevron, E.on, Engie, Shell and Statoil. Another pro-CCS lobby group, the Zero Emissions Platform (ZEP), reflects a similar corporate membership. Industry has been especially keen to attract public funding for CCS technology. However, the technology is controversial with many who point out that it is risky, expensive and could lead to further fossil fuel use and dependency. Even its proponents admit the technology won't be commercially viable before 2030, even with massive injections of public funding so, at a time when serious action to stop runaway climate change is needed within 10 years, CCS only offers to lock in more fossil fuel use and divert funding away from sorely needed investments in renewables and other real solutions.

Davies was the ENVI rapporteur for the CCS Directive in 2008, and according to his Liberal Democrat profile, he “played a key role in introducing the principal funding mechanism used to support development of CCS demonstration projects”. Since then, millions of euros of public EU funds have been channelled into CCS, including into the Ciuden CCS project in Spain. This project was backed by Endesa, Spain's largest electricity company, which is owned by the Italian energy giant Enel. Yet this project has now been cancelled; the initial work was completed but it will not “proceed to full-scale demonstration”.

A 2010 report by Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) and Spinwatch on the battle to fund CCS exposes the corporate support for Davies' pro-CCS activities. The report showed that Shell, BP, Zero Emissions Platform, Climate Change Capital, Eurelectric and Alstom acted as Davies' advisers on CCS: he strategised with them and even co-drafted amendments with them. In the end, Davies told the European Commission that if they didn't agree to his proposals around public subsidies for CCS demonstration projects, he would block all progress on the dossier, telling fellow MEPs that he was "blackmailing" the Commission.

Interestingly, from 2005 to 2008, one of Davies' researchers was Poppy Kalesi who worked with him on CCS issues. In 2008, she moved to DG Energy to work as a policy analyst on the Strategic Energy Technologies (SET-Plan), which included CCS; she also became programme manager on CCS in DG Energy's coal and oil unit, including managing the implementation and performance of the EU's CCS demonstration projects. In 2010, she left the Commission to join Statoil as “EU regulatory affairs advisor”; Statoil has significant CCS interests. More info at Kalesi's RevolvingDoorWatch profile.

Davies' 2012 report on the Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050 also banged the drum for CCS. It criticised the procedural delays and financial shortfalls for new CCS projects, as well as the “lack of commitment on the part of certain Member States” and called upon the Commission to publish a CCS action plan.

In 2013-14, he was rapporteur on a further report on developing and applying carbon capture and storage technology in Europe which called on the Commission to create an EU industrial innovation investment fund to support the CCS flagship projects, and suggested that this could be financed from the sale of allowances from the EU's controversial emission trading scheme, a core CCS industry demand.

Chris Davies Ltd

Now the former MEP has set up his own political and environmental consultancy. According to information on the EU lobby register for Chris Davies Ltd, his consultancy works on “Energy and climate policy, including carbon capture and storage (CCS); environment and sustainability policy, including circular economy issues. Fisheries policy”.

Davies lists three clients (FleishmanHillard, Lexmark International, European Climate Foundation), each of whom provide the consultancy with €10,000-€24,999 lobby revenue in the present year. FleishmanHillard is one of Brussels' biggest lobby firms and its energy-related clients include Total, Shell, Statoil, ENI, SHV Energy, Exxon Mobil, BP. FleishmanHillard does not provide a list of the EU legislative dossiers that it work on for clients (as required by the lobby register rules) although it does make clear that it works in the area of environment and energy policy. It spends over six million euros a year on lobbying activities and lists over 45 European parliament pass-holders. With such a rollcall of energy companies on its client list, it is not hard to imagine why FleishmanHillard considers Davies to be an asset.

The lobby register entry of Lexmark International (the printing and IT company) shows that its interest are in “Waste legislation, Circular economy, Copyright, Energy efficiency, Anti-counterfeiting and clones, Data Protection, Cyber Security, Cloud, Standards and eHealth”. It spent €300,000-€399,999 on lobbying in 2014. Davies' third client is the not-for-profit European Climate Foundation.

In response to questions from Corporate Europe Observatory, Davies told us that he had done “absolutely no work on CCS for Fleishman Hillard” and his only payment from his knowledge of CCS was for an article written for the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute earlier in 2015. But after 15 years of being a key figure on the ENVI committee, public relations firms and industry are likely to be interested in hiring Davies not just on CCS but also on a wider range of other issues, also relating to climate, energy and environment.

Davies told CEO that he complies with the requirements of the EU's lobby register. This illustrates one of a range of flaws with the EU's lobby disclosure rules: there is no requirement to provide precise information about specific lobbying work for clients. Davies' replies can be read here.

The rules in the European Parliament

The code of conduct for MEPs (approved in 2011) that “Former Members of the European Parliament who engage in professional lobbying or representational activities directly linked to the European Union decision-making process may not, throughout the period in which they engage in those activities, benefit from the facilities granted to former Members under the rules laid down by the Bureau to that effect”. However, there is no process to monitor or enforce this part of the code and ensure that former MEPs do not use their lifelong access pass for lobbying purposes. Davies does not currently hold a lobbyist access pass for the Parliament via his consultancy.

When MEPs leave the European parliament they are entitled to a transitional allowance equivalent to one month's salary for every year they have been an MEP, with a minimum pay-out of six months' salary and a maximum of 24 months.

You can also read about 15 other energy/ climate/ environment-related revolving door stories in our November 2015 report: Brussels, big energy, and revolving doors: a hothouse for climate change.

Comment from CEO: 

“When an MEP who sat for 15 years on the Parliament's environment committee and who was well-known for his links to the energy industry, within a few months of leaving office, sets up an environmental political consultancy, eyebrows should be raised. This is especially the case considering that one of Brussels' biggest lobby firms (which itself has many energy company clients) is among Chris Davies' clients. It is imperative that MEPs vote to reform their Code of Conduct, to introduce some comprehensive conflicts of interest rules to cover their time in office – and the two years after they leave too.”  

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