Saturday

17th Nov 2018

EU to agree transparency rules for oil and mining firms

  • Oil and mineral companies will have to report payments to governments (Photo: ezioman)

EU officials will meet Tuesday evening (9 April) for what are expected to be the final talks on radical new rules cracking down on corruption between extractive companies and third world governments.

Under the deal brokered between MEPs and ministers on the Accounting and Transparency directives, all large publicly listed and non-listed extractive companies would be required to declare all payments to and from governments over €100,000 on a country-by-country basis.

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

The payments, which will also cover a range of payments in kind such as preferential tax rates and the free use of buildings, would have to be published for each individual project.

Under the final compromise text, “projects" are defined as "operational activities that are governed by a single contract, license, lease, concession or similar legal agreements and form the basis for payment liabilities with a government."

The project definition is regarded as a victory for MEPs - documents seen by this website indicate that the French and UK governments attempted to water down the definition of a project at various stages in the negotiations.

The actions of multi-nationals in the extractive and logging industries are an emotionally charged issue.

EU lawmakers emphasised the need to put an end to the so-called "resource curse" - whereby countries have remained poor despite being rich in natural and mineral resources due, in part, to high-level corruption.

The negotiations have also seen a concerted lobbying campaign by extractive and oil companies to water down the effects of legislation.

Lawmakers also rejected proposals seeking to exempt companies from reporting requirements if disclosure of the material involves breaking the criminal law in the host country.

The "criminal exemptions" amendment, which was pushed in Council by a handful of countries led by Italy, Spain and Hungary, was widely seen by transparency campaigners as a loophole that could be used by companies and governments to avoid disclosure.

But a Council source told EUobserver that "no evidence has materialised that there are any examples of criminal exemption laws" in any extractive host country they looked at.

British Labour MEP Arlene McCarthy, who has led the parliament's negotiating team on the bills together with legal affairs committee chairman Klaus Hehne-Lehne, a German centre-right deputy, told this website that industry lobbyists had "failed to make a convincing case" for the exemptions.

"It's unclear why they have been seeking to water down rules for a robust reporting system and for exemptions when industry has failed to provide evidence of countries where such disclosure is a criminal offence or illegal," she added.

That said, governments are expected to block a proposal supported by MEPs to extend the scope of the legislation to cover the communications sector and construction.

Meanwhile, the European Commission will also be expected to review the new regime by 2016.

Although the Irish presidency is confident that an overall deal will be struck, unanimous agreement among member states is unlikely.

A Council source indicated that at least one country plans to oppose the deal over the removal of the criminal exemptions clause, while others are unhappy with the proposed revisions to accounting rules.

Agenda

Brexit dominates EU affairs This WEEK

All eyes on London this week, where May struggles to hold onto power against Brexit rebels, while EU leaders meet in Brussels on Sunday to try to clinch agreement.

News in Brief

  1. US warns EU banks and firms against trading with Iran
  2. Merkel urged Romania not to move embassy to Jerusalem
  3. Protesters call for Czech leader to step down
  4. Former German chancellor labelled 'enemy' of Ukraine
  5. French lead opposition to Brexit deal on fisheries
  6. Private accounts of Danske Bank employees investigated
  7. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  8. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May

Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot

Authorities in Budapest confirmed the former prime minister of Macedonia, fleeing a jail sentence in his own country, has filed for asylum. Despite Hungary's strict asylum laws, the pro-Kremlin politician was not turned away.

Merkel calls for 'real, true' EU army

Angela Merkel's much-anticipated speech to the European Parliament was brief and to the point. Her message: Europe is alone in the world, the EU should be more united on defence, but not on the economy.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Brexit dominates EU affairs This WEEK
  2. How the EU commission got tunnel vision on self-driving cars
  3. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  4. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  5. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  6. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  7. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  8. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us