27th Feb 2020

Dodgy EU lobbying in spotlight

  • Some 15,000 lobbyists are thought to work in and around the EU institutions (Photo: CE)

The European Commission cropped up three times yesterday (13 December) in an awards ceremony that highlighted the practice of giving lobbyists too much access to EU-law making.

In the "worst privileged access" category, the internal market department of the commission, run by commissioner Charlie McCreevy, came out top with "manipulating a consultation on EU patent policies" given as the reason.

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Trade commissioner Peter Mandelson came in second place "for opening the door wide to business lobbyists" while his industry colleague Günter Verheugen scooped third prize for "installing unbalanced high level working groups serving big business interests."

In the second category, for "worst EU lobbying" it was oil company ExxonMobil that picked up the honours.

According to the initiators of the project, including Corporate Europe Observatory, Friends of the Earth Europe and LobbyControl, the US company continues to fund climate change sceptics.

PR firm Weber Shandwick got second prize for heading the office of a group that is pushing for equal access to cancer care in the EU, but not making clear the group was financed by pharmaceutical giant Roche.

Meanwhile a "misinformation" campaign over the recently approved EU chemicals legislation REACH got the European Chemical Industry Council third place, according to organisers.

The winners were announced in Brussels after over 9,000 people voted online in what is the second year of the annual award.

Around 15,000 lobbyists are thought to work in Brussels with LobbyControl's Ulrich Müller, quoted in German daily FT Deutschland, as saying "at least two thirds of all lobbyists represent business interests and are involved in virtually all law-making processes."

Green MEP Hiltrud Breyer said "there are indications that whole reports and voting lists are worked out by lobbyists [and] that MEPs' assistants are paid by industry."

For its part the European Commission has set up a voluntary register for lobbyists. However, critics say that only a mandatory register with full financial disclosure is the way to keep the sector clean.

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