Monday

12th Apr 2021

Sarkozy, Barroso back greater transparency for extractive industry

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has called on the European Commission to come forward quickly with legislation to regulate the commodities and raw materials sectors, warning that high prices are threatening global economic growth.

Paris has placed the subject high on the agenda of the group of twenty nations (G20) which it currently chairs, with Sarkozy keen to see movement from other regions before a leaders' meeting in Cannes this November.

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

  • Commission proposals this October will force oil companies and others to publish more financial data (Photo: Paul Lowry)

Economists first became aware of the dangers of higher commodity prices almost forty years ago during the first oil shock, Sarkozy told delegates at a commission-organised conference in Brussels on Tuesday (14 June).

"Today, that threat has become reality," added the French president who is hoping G20 success will boost his chances of re-election next May.

Greater production levels, increased transparency of markets and tighter rules surrounding commodity derivatives are among the issues being pushed for by the Elysee Palace, in order to tackle the high prices currently seen for oil, food and key metals such as copper.

Many of the subjects were addressed in a commission strategy paper published in February, but Paris is impatient to see legislative proposals put on the table.

Several delegates at Tuesday's meeting warned however that placing an excessive strait-jacket on commodity markets could exacerbate price volatility rather than reduce it, with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso aware that not all EU governments share Paris' viewpoint on the subject.

Barroso said the commission will publish new rules this autumn that will force European companies in the extractive industry to disclose greater amounts of financial information, including the amount of money paid to governments where they do business.

NGOs say this country-by-country financial reporting would help resource-rich African countries increase their take home taxes, for example, and enable citizens to hold governments to account for the drilling or mining royalties they receive.

"The commission will publish proposals in October, including the obligation on companies to publish information on their activities," Barroso told the conference.

"That is essential to fight the corruption which is seen in some trades. I would appeal to all partners to follow the same approach. Only co-ordinated global action will produce a real solution."

European companies are known to be scrambling to prepare a common position ahead of the commission's publication, with a group likely to support plans for a voluntary code - the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) - to be made mandatory.

Anti-poverty advocacy group ONE is among those who argue such a move does not go far enough.

"Today's strong speeches from Presidents Barroso and Sarkozy outline how fundamental transparency has become to the debate," said ONE's Brussels office director, Eloise Todd. "The murky deals between extractive companies and despots must become a thing of the past.

Euro-deputies warn however that much will be decided by the nature of the commission's publication this October.

In a letter to EU internal market commissioner Michel Barnier last week, Green MEPs Philippe Lamberts, Sven Giegold and Pascal Canfin backed a review of the EU's accountancy directive.

"This would ensure equal treatment between listed and unlisted companies, the latter not being subject to the [EU] transparency directive," reads the letter.

Black gold in Virunga, curse or saviour?

The DRC's Virunga National Park is teaming with wildlife but also sits atop huge oil deposits, traditionally a magnet for corruption in parts of Africa. New EU legislation covering the extractive industry may help.

Exclusive

Four deaths after taking Russian Sputnik V vaccine

Four people recently died after taking Russia's Sputnik V anti-corona jab in previously unreported cases, which are being taken "seriously" by the EU regulator, the European Medicines Agency.

News in Brief

  1. Turkey blames EU for sexist protocol fiasco
  2. France to close elite civil-service academy
  3. Covid-19 cases in UK drop 60%, study finds
  4. White House urges 'calm' after Northern Ireland riots
  5. Italy's Draghi calls Turkey's Erdoğan a 'dictator'
  6. Slovakia told to return Sputnik V amid quality row
  7. EU risks €87bn in stranded fossil fuel assets
  8. Obligatory vaccination not against human rights, European court says

Column

Why Germans understand the EU best

In Germany, there is commotion about a new book in which two journalists describe meetings held during the corona crisis between federal chancellor Angela Merkel, and the 16 prime ministers of its federal constituent states.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market

Latest News

  1. The Covid bell tolls for eastern Europe's populists
  2. Four deaths after taking Russian Sputnik V vaccine
  3. Post-Brexit riots flare up in Northern Ireland
  4. Advice on AstraZeneca varies across EU, amid blood clot fears
  5. Greenland election could see halt to rare-earth mining
  6. After 50 years, where do Roma rights stand now?
  7. Why Iran desperately wants a new nuclear deal
  8. Does new EU-ACP deal really 'decolonise' aid?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us