Wednesday

28th Sep 2022

Oil giant defends its EU lobby transparency

  • "Lobby groups and companies with something to hide can decide what to disclose and what to withhold," says Friends of the Earth Europe. (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

Oil giant BP denies allegations it is under-reporting its lobbying efforts in Brussels.

A spokesperson for the oil giant told this website on Thursday (11 July) that it is completely transparent.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

“We report our direct lobbying costs and also list our memberships of associations like Europia, Concawe, Eurogas,” the contact said by email.

But for its part, the Brussels’ based advocacy group Friends of the Earth Europe (FoE), says both BP and Shell provide misleading information in the EU transparency register.

It says the two firms increased their declared lobbying budgets in the registry after FoE filed a complaint to the EU Ombudsman against the European Commission in 2012.

FoE says Shell’s lobby budget in the register went from €400,000 to €4,000,000 in February 2012. They say BP also upped its declared lobbying expenditures in the registry in November 2012.

BP notes that industry associations - such as Europia, Concawe and Eurogas - are also listed on the register and report the contributions they receive.

“If we were to report our contributions to them, there would be double-counting of costs on the register, which would give a distorted picture of the industry’s lobbying efforts,” said the BP spokesperson.

The UK-based company declares five lobbyists in the registry but has eight accredited to the European Parliament.

BP says the discrepancy is due to uncertainty of reporting full-time and part-time individuals and that the registers are not always up to date.

FoE in 2010 tried to get the European Commission to disclose documents that revealed the true extent of the lobbying efforts by the companies.

The commission refused full access, stating in February 2011 that some of the information requested by the group was “irrelevant”.

FoE then filed a complaint against the commission with EU Ombudsman Nikiforos Diamandouros.

On Thursday, Diamandouros released the conclusions of his investigation into FoE’s complaint.

Diamandouros called on the commission to improve accuracy and monitoring of the transparency register.

“This includes providing better guidance for companies and organisations which register themselves, so as to ensure that the information given is accurate,” he said in a statement.

He added that the commission “had done all in its power to investigate the complaints and that its conclusions were reasonable,” but he critised the EU executive for failing to explain why it rejected FoE’s arguments in the first place.

The commission’s institutional affairs spokesperson, Antony Gravili, said the decision relates to events which took place before the transparency register existed.

“Very few countries in the world, including EU Member States, have such a robust system in place to bring transparency to those who seek to influence the decision-making process,” he said.

FoE, for their part, says the ruling demonstrates that a voluntary-based EU transparency register is not credible.

Shell was contacted on this story but has yet to respond.

Europe's far-right celebrates Meloni victory

In Warsaw and Budapest, the prime ministers were quick to congratulate the new Italian leader, who — they hope — will back them in their battles with the EU over civil rights, rule of law and democratic backsliding.

EU seeks crisis powers to take control over supply chains

The Single Market Emergency Instrument (SMEI) introduces a staged, step-by-step, approach — providing emergency powers to the EU Commission to tackle any potential threat which could trigger disruptions or shortages of key products within the EU.

Testimony from son rocks trial of ex-Czech PM Babiš

In a fraud trial relating to €2m in EU subsidies, Andrej Babiš son testified his signature on share-transfer agreements was forged. He claims his father transferred the shares to him without his knowledge, making him a front man for scheme.

Column

EU should admonish less, and listen more, to the Global South

Whether on Russia, or gas, or climate change, or food security, the EU's constant finger-wagging and moralising is becoming unbearably repetitive and self-defeating. Most countries in the Global South view it as eurocentric and neo-colonial.

Podcast

How Europe helped normalise Georgia Meloni

Should Georgia Meloni be considered neofascist? She insists she's a patriotic conservative. And indeed, if she's prime minister, she's expected to respect Italy's democracy — if only to keep money flowing from the EU.

News in Brief

  1. EU okays €21bn Covid-recovery funding for Italy amid concern
  2. Greece pitches new EU fund to tackle energy prices
  3. Hungary says sanctions 'harming Europe more than Russia'
  4. France aims to start building new nuclear reactors by 2027
  5. Polish PM thinks it's 'clear' Nord Stream leaks are act of sabotage
  6. Former Jobbik MEP sentenced to prison for Russia spying
  7. There is a 'really big hole' in the Nord Stream pipeline
  8. Danish PM suspects Nord Stream leaks may be sabotage

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  3. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  5. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling

Latest News

  1. Underwater explosions were detected near Nord Stream leaks
  2. EU countries stall new pesticide rules, blame Ukraine war
  3. The UN's Uyghur report must push EU into China sanctions
  4. Russian diamonds ban 'would cost 10,000 jobs', Antwerp claims
  5. EU should admonish less, and listen more, to the Global South
  6. Foul play suspicions in Nord Stream leaks
  7. 'Collective guilt' — the dilemma of penalising Russia's opposition
  8. Europe's far-right celebrates Meloni victory

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us