13th Apr 2024

Amazon lobbyists banned from EU Parliament

  • The US online giant failed to cooperate with MEPs on various occasions since 2021, they said (Photo: European Parliament)
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Amazon lobbyists are to be banned from the European Parliament until further notice, after an internal body unanimously decided to withdraw their badges on Tuesday (27 February), EUobserver has learned.

Last Wednesday, the group leaders of the Socialists & Democrats, Greens, Left, and Renew Europe joined forces to push for the ban, although it was up to the Quaestors — an internal body responsible for administrative and financial matters concerning EU lawmakers — to take the decision.

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The arguments provided by giant US online retailer Amazon were not found sufficient by the internal body, and all quaestors were in favour of authorising the secretary general to withdraw their long-term access badges, although some in the meeting raised concerns related to the risk of legal action, or the possibility for the lobbyists to find other ways to enter the building.

The ban follows a call by the parliament's employment committee earlier this month, when MEPs decided to take action against the US firm for failing to cooperate with them on various occasions since 2021.

"The matter can be reconsidered if Amazon shows willingness to cooperate, in particular at the request of the employment committee," the chair of the committee, MEP Dragos Pislaru (Renew Europe), said.

The petition was quickly backed by 30 civil society organisations and trade unions, who saw Amazon's lack of cooperation as a "wilful obstruction of democratic scrutiny of the company's activities", they said in a letter dated 12 February.

"The European parliament has drawn a clear red line: Amazon's anti-democratic behaviour won't be tolerated," said Olivier Roethig, regional secretary at UNI Europa, a union representing seven million service workers.

"Now comes the hard work of ensuring the company does not circumvent it. Members of the European Parliament and their staff members must ensure they do not open a side door for Amazon lobbyists," added Margarida Silva, a researcher at SOMO, a Dutch think-tank.

This is not the first time that MEPs have used the parliament's rules of procedure to ask for a badge to be deactivated or withdrawn for refusing, without sufficient justification, "to comply with a formal summons to attend a hearing or a committee meeting or to cooperate with a committee of inquiry", according to Rule 123.

In 2017, Monsanto lobbyists were barred from entering the institution after the US pesticide company declined a request from the agriculture and environment committees to attend a hearing on the glyphosate weedkiller.

Amazon employs a total of 14 lobbyists with access to the EU parliament building.

"We are very disappointed with this decision, as we want to engage constructively with policymakers," an Amazon spokesperson said. "We remain committed to participating in balanced, constructive dialogue on issues that affect European citizens".

This article has been updated to reflect Amazon's position

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