Sunday

28th May 2017

EU expert groups dominated by corporate interest, say NGOs

  • Pro-transparency NGOs and trade unions want the commission to introduce new rules on expert groups (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

Pro-transparency groups and trade unions are urging the European Commission to scale back corporate influence on policy-making decisions.

On Monday (1 September), four organisations said the commission’s so-called expert groups are dominated by industry, which can have “a damaging impact on EU decisions".

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.

Expert groups offer advice and opinions to commission officials drafting up new policies but many are said to neglect or under-represent the views of civil society.

The ETUC, which represents trade unions across the EU, the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU), UNI Global Union, and Corporate Europe Observatory, say new rules are needed to address the compositional imbalance of expert group, the secrecy of decision-making, and the application process to participate in expert groups.

“Business interests have an undue influence over public policy making through the unbalanced composition of expert groups,” note the organisations.

Similar concerns were raised by over the summer by the European Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly.

In May, O’Reilly announced she would launch an investigation into the transparency and composition of expert groups.

She said groups needed “to be balanced and to work as transparently as possible".

The ETUC notes that industry experts account for more than 50 percent of some groups.

The European Parliament in 2012 agreed to unfreeze the budget for expert groups on condition that no stakeholder would have a majority position.

Over a dozen new expert groups have been formed since the parliament released the budget but NGOs say corporate interest continue to dominate.

The commission, for its part, says expert groups give it expertise in a diverse range of areas.

It says it has agreed to seek expert contributions from elsewhere and has reviewed the composition of many groups.

But it also points out groups would lose their purpose if they accommodated quotas for various points of views as demanded by the NGOs.

“Many of the present members would likely no longer participate because they could not see any reason for participating in a political debate,” a commission spokesperson told this website last year.

EUobserved

Scramble for UK agencies paves way for Trumpian claims

The Spanish health minister this week bragged that Barcelona was “the best city”, had “the best building”, and “the best infrastructure” to host the EU's medicines agency post-Brexit.

Macron and Merkel to 'reconstruct' the EU

The French and German leaders will present a common proposal to deepen and strengthen the EU and the eurozone. They say they are ready to change the EU treaties.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFChild Alert on Myanmar: Fruits of Rapid Development yet to Reach Remote Regions
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBecome an Explorer - 'Traces of Nordic' Seeking Storytellers Around the World
  3. Malta EU 2017Closer Cooperation and Reinforced Solidarity to Ensure Security of Gas Supply
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceHigh-Intensity Interval Training Is Therapeutic Option for Type 2 Diabetes
  5. Dialogue Platform"The West Must Help Turkey Return to a Democratic Path" a Call by Fethullah Gulen
  6. ILGA-EuropeRainbow Europe 2017 Is Live - Which Countries Are Leading on LGBTI Equality?
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhen You Invest in a Refugee Woman You Help the Whole Community
  8. Eurogroup for AnimalsECJ Ruling: Member States Given No Say on Wildlife Protection In Trade
  9. European Heart NetworkCall for Urgent Adoption of EU-Wide Nutrient Profiles for Nutrition & Health Claims
  10. Counter BalanceInvestment Plan for Europe More Climate Friendly but European Parliament Shows Little Ambition
  11. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi: China's Belt and Road Initiative Benefits People Around the World
  12. Malta EU 2017EU Strengthens Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Firearms