Tuesday

19th Mar 2019

EU commissioners left no paper trail on car lobby talks

  • Guenther Oettinger in 2012, when he was energy commissioner, shaking hands with Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne. On the left is Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche. All pictured men were members of the High Level Group on the competitiveness and sustainable growth (Photo: European Commission)

European Commissioners Guenther Oettinger and Miguel Arias Canete met with German carmaker Daimler last year to discuss the future of EU emissions rules, without leaving any paper trail.

The meeting took place in Strasbourg on 24 October 2017, 15 days before the commission presented a legislative proposal on new CO2 emission standards.

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

Last month, EUobserver asked the European Commission in an access to documents request to receive all documents related to the meeting, "including but not limited to minutes, verbatim reports, emails, and presentations".

The commission replied on Thursday (12 April), saying "we regret to inform you that the commission does not hold any documents that would correspond to the description given in your application".

This means that the meeting was set up without any preparatory or follow-up emails being exchanged, and that during the meeting, no one took notes.

Oettinger's cabinet registered the meeting's subject as "Future of CO2 emission regulation".

Meanwhile, the choice of commissioners with whom the Daimler lobbyist - or lobbyists, that is not clear - met, was somewhat peculiar.

It is not surprising that the German company wanted to talk to the Spaniard Canete, who is in charge of climate action.

But Oettinger's portfolio is commission human resources and the EU budget.

It is likely that a more relevant factor for Daimler was that Oettinger is German.

The German commissioner has met with German carmakers before. In 2016 he discussed the Dieselgate scandal with Volkswagen - also without anyone taking any notes.

The EU's regulation on access to documents only allows existing papers to be requested - if nothing is written down, it cannot be made public.

Recently, Finnish jobs commissioner Jyrki Katainen met with former commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso, also without taking any notes.

Katainen's defence was that the two were friends and met "for a beer".

According to the LobbyFacts website, Daimler lobbyists met with commissioners or high-level officials 37 times since November 2014. It has reported an annual EU lobbying budget of between €2.5m and €2.75m.

Car lobby uses Brexit to dispute CO2 targets

The lobby group for European car manufacturers has said that if UK sales data is not counted when calculating CO2 emissions, the target should be reviewed. The commission has refused to comment.

New Commission CO2 rules for cars include some 'leeway'

Cars should emit 30 percent less CO2 by 2030, the Commission proposed, but carmakers will be allowed to miss that target (up to a point) if they manufacture a certain share of low emission vehicles.

Interview

Katainen explains: My friend Barroso did not lobby me

Vice-president of the European Commission Jyrki Katainen tells EUobserver that he did most of the talking during a beer with the former commission chief, who now works for Goldman Sachs.

Investigation

Oettinger left no trace of VW Dieselgate meeting

EU commissioner for the digital economy and society, Guenther Oettinger, met with German carmakers in January to discuss "diesel emissions", even though the topic is not in his portfolio.

Exclusive

Commission took no minutes at Juncker speech seminar

In August, Jean-Claude Juncker and his EU commissioners held a two-day seminar at a chateau outside Brussels to prepare this week's State of the Union speech. The commission implies there is no written record.

News in Brief

  1. Blow for May as third vote on Brexit deal ruled out
  2. Three killed in possible 'terror' gun attack in Utrecht
  3. Third Brexit vote this week only if DUP will support it
  4. Germany's two largest banks confirm merger talks
  5. Serbian pro-democracy protests reach 15th week
  6. 'Yellow Vest' riots leave Paris shops vandalised
  7. European woman older when having first baby
  8. Majority of Germans want Merkel to stay on

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  2. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  3. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  6. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  11. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  12. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us