Saturday

10th Dec 2016

MEPs threaten to block commission funding over transparency

MEPs are threatening to block €2 million in EU funding for expert groups unless the European Commission can guarantee more transparency.

The expert groups, selected by the commission, act as inside advisors to help it draw up EU legislative proposals and policy initiatives. But how they are selected and the interests they represent have drawn wide-spread criticism from pro-transparency groups and some MEPs.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • The EU parliament earlier this year clashed with the commission over access to internal documents (Photo: Christoph Diewald)

British centre-left Michael Cashman, Dutch left-wing Dennis de Jong, and German Green Helga Trupel were among the handful of deputies who met European Commission representatives on Wednesday (5 September) to discuss the issue.

The Parliament’s budget committee was scheduled to vote to either lift or block the reserve on Thursday but decided to postpone the vote until 19 September.

“It gives us more time to put down in writing what we had agreed with the commission today. I think the commission is really engaged but if it doesn't materialise we'll block the funds," said de Jong.

The European Parliament says it will not release the funds unless the commission meets a number of conditions, including banning lobbyists and corporate executives from sitting in the groups.

The parliament is also insisting that groups are not dominated by a single interest category, such as big business.

The commission, for its part, has acknowledged outstanding issues among the groups that could give rise to a conflict of interest.

It identified 18 of its groups over the summer that include people who "are representatives of stakeholders" and do not represent the interests of the public.

The commission has also noted that some of the stakeholders, or lobbyists, had given misleading statements when joining the groups by claiming they were "experts in a personal capacity" when they were representing third parties.

The commission has not revealed the identities of the groups but the Brussels-based pro-transparency group Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) claims the European design leadership board and the Raw Materials Supply Group are among them.

The commission said it published all relevant documents linked to the expert groups in April. But CEO disagrees.

"Agendas and minutes for most groups are not available through the register and most of the time not available at all," it wrote in a letter to MEPs.

Corporate interests continue to dominate around 100 expert groups, says the NGO.

Over 30 of the 89 groups linked to the commission's DG enterprise, for instance, are almost entirely composed of people representing corporations.

The department, which works on research, international trade, consumer, environmental and internal market policy issues, partially relies on 482 people from big corporations to help it draw up policy.

An additional 255 people from non-government categories like independent professionals, academics and civil society also advise the DG, says CEO.

News in Brief

  1. Council of Europe critical of Turkey emergency laws
  2. Italian opposition presses for anti-euro referendum
  3. Danish MP wants warning shots fired to deter migrants
  4. Defected Turkish officers to remain in Greece
  5. Most child asylum seekers are adults, says Denmark
  6. No school for children of 'illegal' migrants, says Le Pen
  7. Ombudsman slams EU Commission on tobacco lobbying
  8. McDonald's moves fiscal HQ to UK following tax probe

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Swedish EnterprisesHow to Use Bioenergy Coming From Forests in a Sustainable Way?
  2. Counter BalanceReport Reveals Corrupt but Legal Practices in Development Finance
  3. Swedish EnterprisesMEPs and Business Representatives Debated on the Future of the EU at the Winter Mingle
  4. ACCASets Out Fifty Key Factors in the Public Sector Accountants Need to Prepare for
  5. UNICEFSchool “as Vital as Food and Medicine” for Children Caught up in Conflict
  6. European Jewish CongressEJC President Breathes Sigh of Relief Over Result of Austrian Presidential Election
  7. CESICongress Re-elects Klaus Heeger & Romain Wolff as Secretary General & President
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAustrian Association for Betting and Gambling Joins EGBA
  9. ACCAWomen of Europe Awards: Celebrating the Women who are Building Europe
  10. European Heart NetworkWhat About our Kids? Protect Children From Unhealthy Food and Drink Marketing
  11. ECR GroupRestoring Trust and Confidence in the European Parliament
  12. UNICEFChild Rights Agencies Call on EU to put Refugee and Migrant Children First