The UK government authorised Hinde's move (under UK business appointment rules) to become a lobbyist but the authorities have steadfastly refused to provide any additional information on the conditions applied to the authorisation despite an appeal under UK freedom of information rules.
Matthew Hinde was Head of EU Strategy at the UK government's Department of Energy and Climate Change for the past two years until September 2015. The UK plays a key role in EU policy-making. It has a lot of weight in energy negotiations and is very active in championing industry interests in CCS, nuclear, and other areas. Hinde himself worked on key EU energy policy dossiers, including the 2030 Climate and Energy Framework and the Energy Union.
Since October 2015, Hinde has been working with FleishmanHillard Brussels, one of the EU's biggest lobby consultancies as Senior Vice-President and Head of its energy practice. FleishmanHillard is a power player in the energy lobbying field and its clients include some of the world's major energy companies: Total, Shell, Statoil, ENI, SHV Energy, ExxonMobil, BP, and many others with an interest in energy and / or climate policy. It spends over six million euros a year on lobbying activities and lists over 45 European parliament pass-holders, now including Hinde himself.
Hinde is likely to know his way around Brussels well, having previously served as energy attaché at the UK permanent representation 2009-2013 and FleishmanHillard has not been shy at trumpeting Hinde's revolving door credentials saying he “offers a wealth of experience in EU energy issues from his time in the UK civil service”.
Hinde himself will be advising clients directly including, it seems, on the issues he handled until the month previously for the UK government. Specifically he has said:
“With the Energy Union approaching its first anniversary and many of its key legislative files starting, there’s never been a more important time for energy companies to engage with Brussels. I am looking forward to helping them navigate this changing policy environment at a time of business disruption for many industry players.”
FleishmanHillard says that Hinde will also work on the “impact of energy policy on energy users in sectors such as chemicals and transportation.” Its clients in those sectors include Monsanto and EasyJet.
In April 2015, whilst representing the UK government, Hinde addressed a FleishmanHillard Brussels event on Diversifying Europe’s Natural Gas Supply, speaking alongside another revolving door-spinner Joachim Balke (see our report LINK). As the event was held under Chatham House rules, we do not know who was present or what was said.
We contacted Hinde before publishing this report with a variety of questions about his new role. He simply told us:
“I undertook the UK Government Advisory Committee on Business Appointments process before leaving DECC. In terms of clients, FleishmanHillard’s are detailed on the EU transparency register.”
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.
"The EU's climate change revolving door problem is shared by member states. The UK government has been very untransparent in this case and has taken a lackadaisical approach to the risk of conflicts of interest which is disturbing. Government officials working on EU energy issues should not be able to move so smoothly to major Brussels lobby firms, especially when that firm represents so many Big Energy companies. New rules and a whole new approach are required."