Saturday

1st Apr 2023

EU to keep corporate sponsorship of presidencies

  • An INA service station in Croatia - one of the sponsors of Croatia's six-month presidency in the first-half of 2020 (Photo: INA, d.d.)

The EU appears unwilling to impose an outright ban on allowing corporate sponsorships of the rotating six-month EU presidencies.

The presidencies are overseen by individual member states and steer big EU-wide policy decisions by aiming to coordinate decision-making.

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

Having them sponsored by corporate money is perceived as posing a risk to its reputation among the wider public.

But draft non-binding guidelines issued on 29 June say it is up to the member state, holding the presidency, to choose how they want to finance costs linked to things like informal meetings, seminars, and social and cultural events.

"Should the presidency decide to use private sponsorship to cover some costs, it should avoid any actual or perceived conflict of interests," notes the internal letter, drafted by the chief administrators of the Council, representing member states.

It also notes that the council's name or logo cannot be used by the sponsor in its activities.

The move comes despite Germany's current EU presidency announcing it will not use any sponsors.

"As a political sign of its independence, Germany's presidency of the Council of the European Union will, as a rule, refrain from any kind of sponsorship," it stated.

It said the decision was made to guarantee that the presidency won't be subject to outside influence.

Croatia headed the presidency in the first six months of 2020. Its presidency was in part sponsored by its country's national oil company, INA.

That sponsorship deal was announced on the heels of the European Commission's flagship policy on the Green Deal to fight climate change.

The Finnish presidency in the second half of last year was sponsored by BMW and Romania's presidency before it had carmakers Renault and Mercedes, and drinks multinational Coca-Cola.

Critics and pro-transparency groups say the perception of outside influence may help undermine the integrity of the European Union.

EU Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly drew similar conclusions.

In June, she said the presidency use of sponsorships risks "jeopardising the reputation of the council and the EU as a whole."

She then demanded the council provides some guidance on the issue, which resulted in the internal letter drafted on 29 June.

In a tweet, the Brussels-based NGO Corporate Europe Observatory, also said stronger rules are needed.

"It would send a much stronger signal to citizens that EU counties were prepared to distance themselves from corporate lobbies *if* the whole practice of presidency sponsorship were to be banned," it said.

Exclusive

Big Oil sponsors Croatia's EU presidency

Croatia's national oil company has become the EU council presidency's "official gasoline supplier" - in a move that appears to clash with aspirations of the European Green Deal. Critics say such sponsorships pose a reputational risk with the wider public.

Finland rejects call to end sponsorship of EU presidency

Appalled over Coca-Cola sponsoring the recent Romanian EU presidency, MEPs have asked Finland, the new holders of the rotating post, to put an end to such practices. But Helsinki, whose presidency is sponsored by BMW, has no such plan.

Opinion

How a Croatian gas project exposes Green Deal hypocrisy

The EU Commission is pushing a wave of controversial gas infrastructure projects, in parallel to its much-touted Green Deal. One of those a flagship project of the Republic of Croatia, who currently chairs the EU presidency.

Opinion

Biden's 'democracy summit' poses questions for EU identity

From the perspective of international relations, the EU is a rare bird indeed. Theoretically speaking it cannot even exist. The charter of the United Nations, which underlies the current system of global governance, distinguishes between states and organisations of states.

Opinion

Turkey's election — the Erdoğan vs Kılıçdaroğlu showdown

Turkey goes to the polls in May for both a new parliament and new president, after incumbent Recep Tayyip Erdoğan decided against a post-earthquake postponement. The parliamentary outcome is easy to predict — the presidential one less so.

Latest News

  1. EU to press South Korea on arming Ukraine
  2. Aid agencies clam up in Congo sex-for-work scandal
  3. Ukraine — what's been destroyed so far, and who pays?
  4. EU sending anti-coup mission to Moldova in May
  5. Firms will have to reveal and close gender pay-gap
  6. Why do 83% of Albanians want to leave Albania?
  7. Police violence in rural French water demos sparks protests
  8. Work insecurity: the high cost of ultra-fast grocery deliveries

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWWEFBWW calls for the EC to stop exploitation in subcontracting chains
  2. InformaConnecting Expert Industry-Leaders, Top Suppliers, and Inquiring Buyers all in one space - visit Battery Show Europe.
  3. EFBWWEFBWW and FIEC do not agree to any exemptions to mandatory prior notifications in construction
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ways to prevent gender-based violence
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: Economic gender equality now! Nordic ways to close the pension gap
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: Pushing back the push-back - Nordic solutions to online gender-based violence

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us