Friday

19th Apr 2019

MEPs call for EU to clean up oil, mining industries

  • Oil spill in Niger Delta - Nigeria is a byword for oil sector corruption and negligence (Photo: Sosialistisk Ungdom - SU)

The European Parliament has urged EU countries to clean up the mining and oil industries by publishing what companies pay to get their hands on contracts and by giving legal protection to whistleblowers.

The two reports - on financial transparency by German Green MEP Reinhard Butikofer and on safety standards by British Conservative Vicky Ford - were voted through in Strasbourg on Tuesday (13 September). Both texts are not legally binding but show which way the parliament wants the European Commission to go when it proposes new EU laws in the sector later this year.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The Butikofer report said the commission should: "Establish legally binding requirements for extractive companies to publish their revenue payments for each project and country they invest in, following the example of the US Dodd-Frank bill."

The US bill, which became law in 2010, forces all publicly-listed companies to disclose their payments to foreign governments.

The Butikofer text notes that EU firms have a bad track record of "violating environmental and labour standards and human rights" in developing countries. It adds that "EU companies should be legally liable in their home countries for any violation of human rights, environmental standards or ILO [International Labour Organisation] core labour standards by their subsidiaries abroad".

The Ford report is designed to prevent a repetition of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which flooded the Gulf of Mexico with oil and chemical dispersants last year.

It said: "Employees should be able to declare security failures or risks to competent authorities on an anonymous basis whilst being protected from harassment."

It also called for oil companies to draw up emergency plans for every offshore well they operate, to be held financially liable to an unlimited amount in the event of a spill and for the EU to keep a log of disaster-response assets which can be used if needed.

Ford declined to call for an EU-level oil industry regulator or to impose a moratorium on new drilling until new safety laws are in place. MEPs also rejected an amendment calling for a specific moratorium in the Arctic.

"There has been a suggestion that the EU should have a moratorium on exploration until new legislation is put in place, and a new EU-wide regulator. I believe neither is workable," she said after the vote. "A moratorium now could cause serious damage to our economic growth."

British left-wing MEP Peter Skinner, who put forward the whistleblower clause, noted: "If we are to prevent lethal accidents and disastrous oil spills, workers on rigs must be able to speak out".

For its part, a collection of pro-transparency NGOs called Publish What You Pay, welcomed the Butikofer paper.

"Secrecy in company payments for oil, gas and mineral resources has too often led to corruption, violence and civil war in many countries which are rich in natural resources", its director, Marinke van Riet, said in a written statement.

The Arab Spring has brought to the foreground EU oil industry co-operation with repressive regimes in the region.

EU countries on Tuesday reached political agreement on a set of top-up sanctions on Syria designed to stop EU companies such as Shell and Total from helping President Bashar Assad pump oil to export terminals, AFP reports. The EU earlier this month already imposed a ban on EU oil imports from Syria.

Looking to the future of Libya, British pro-transparency NGO Global Witness last month said: "Both the NTC [rebel leaders] and the Libya Contact Group [the league of anti-Gaddafi countries] have a responsibility to take all necessary steps to ensure that the people of Libya benefit fully from their country's wealth".

Feature

Romania enlists priests to promote euro switchover plan

Romania is due to join the single currency in 2024 - despite currently only meeting one of the four criteria. Now the government in Bucharest is enlisting an unlikely ally to promote the euro to the public: the clergy.

Trump and Kurz: not best friends, after all

The visit of Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz to the White House on Wednesday showed that the current rift in transatlantic relations is deepening by the day.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  2. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  3. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute
  4. Brunei defends stoning to death of gay men in EU letter
  5. US Democrats side with Ireland on Brexit
  6. Wifi or 5G to connect EU cars? MEPs weigh in
  7. How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament
  8. EU parliament backs whistleblower law

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  6. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  7. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  8. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  9. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  11. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  12. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us