Sunday

27th May 2018

Biofuel groups win EU Worst Lobbying Awards

  • The satirical awards faced - and won - its first legal challenge this year (Photo: worstlobby.eu)

Biofuel lobbyists in Brussels have won the award for "Worst EU Lobbying 2008" - the annual spoof awards ceremony organised by transparency campaigners to gives the raspberry to the lobbying community in the EU capital.

Spanish energy firm Abengoa Bioenergy, the Malyasian Palm Oil Council and Brazilian biofuels group UNICA jointly won the less-than-prestigious award on Tuesday night (9 December) for their intense lobbying and advertising campaigns attempting to counter the flood of reports from academics, development organisations, the World Bank and the UN that highlighted the environmental and food-security cost of the alternative energy source.

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 transparency campaigners, bringing together Corporate Europe Observatory, Friends of the Earth Europe, Lobbycontrol and Spinwatch, accused the three biofuels groups of "misleading information and greenwash ...in key European media to get their message out."

"All three made exaggerated predications about the percentage of greenhouse gas savings biofuels can achieve," the awards' organisers said.

In one advertisement repeatedly featured in Brussels media, Abengoa cited information from environmental campaign group Transport and Environment to back up their claims about the sustainability of biofuels. However, the group in question campaigns against unsustainable biofuels and says the quote does not come from any of their reports.

EUobserver attempted to reach the award-winners for comment unsuccessfully.

Every year, a second award - the EU Conflict of Interest Award - is also handed out to the other side of the lobbying game, the person being lobbied.

This year, the award went to Finnish conservative MEP Piia-Noora Kauppi, who is going directly from the European Parliament's Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, where, according to the award organisers, she has repeatedly pushed for "light-touch regulation of the banking sector," to work as director of the Federation of Finnish Financial Services in January, 2009.

Transparency campaigners argue that the MEP is an example of the all-too-common "revolving door" phenomenon, where politicians and officials step out of the role of a regulator of one sector of the economy straight into the role of an advocate for the same sector.

Ms Kauppi called the claims of conflict of interest "totally unjustified and politically motivated" and described the organisers of the awards show as being "anti-business."

"I have been fully open about my nomination to the Federation of Finnish Financial Services and I mentioned it in the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee of the European Parliament after my nomination was made public," she said.

"I have also resigned from my full membership in the ECON committee in July, and another Finnish MEP has taken my seat," she added.

The award show organisers for the first time this year were the target of legal action on the part of one of the nominees.

One of the candidates for the Worst Conflict of Interest Award, suspended European Commission official Fritz-Harald Wenig, last week argued before the Court of First Instance in Brussels that his name be removed from the nomination list and not be mentioned during the awards ceremony.

Mr Wenig was stung earlier this year by journalists from the UK's Sunday Times posing as lobbyists offering to pay for information they received from him in his capacity as director of trade defence with the commission's trade department.

The undercover reporters offered Mr Wenig a well paid job and a payment of €100,000. The newspaper reported that the official then suggested putting the money in a frozen bank account which he would be able to access after he retired.

The Court of First Instance however found in the award organisers' favour.

The awards' presenter, UK comedian Mark Thomas, said: "The most fundamental tenet of democracy has to be transparency ...By naming and shaming the winners of the awards, I hope we can illustrate the crucial need for action across the EU to prevent such conflicts of interest and corporate abuse from damaging people's lives and the environment."

Macron and Orban defend opposing EU visions

Two models - of deeper integration and liberal values, versus a Europe of strong and illiberal nations - will define voters' choices in the EU elections in 2019.

Analysis

Commission wants bigger post-Brexit budget

The Commission wants the next EU budget to prove the bloc has survived Brexit unscathed. However, some net payers disagree. The EU executive plans to put out an overall budget figure of 1.13 to 1.18 percent of EU GNI.

Analysis

New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability

The EU's latest funding rules for European political parties and their think tanks fails to address the underlying problems of abuse. Instead of tackling the loans and donations culture, it has simply made access to EU funds a lot easier.

Opinion

The dangers of resurgent nationalism in Greece

Virulent nationalism in Greece has been stirred up in the context of austerity and renewed negotiations with Macedonia. Recent attempts by the government to address the inequalities suffered by LGBT persons have also been met with a reactionary backlash.

Opinion

Linking EU funds to 'rule of law' is innovative - but vague

Defining what constitutes 'rule of law' violations may be more difficult than the EU Commission proposes, as it tries to link cohesion funds in east Europe to judicial independence. A key question will be who is to 'judge' those judges?

News in Brief

  1. Italy set to pick eurosceptic finance minister
  2. UK foreign minister fooled by Russian pranksters
  3. Rajoy ally gets 33 years in jail for corruption
  4. Close race as polls open in Irish abortion referendum
  5. Gazprom accepts EU conditions on gas supplies
  6. Facebook tells MEPs: non-users are not profiled
  7. Commission proposes ending France deficit procedure
  8. UK households hit with Brexit income loss

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman requests more lending transparency from European Investment Bank
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  3. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  4. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  5. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  6. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  8. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  12. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May
  2. EU Green Week 2018Green Cities for a Greener Future. Join the Debate in Brussels from 22 to 24 May
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers12 Recommendations for Nordic Leadership on Climate and Environment
  4. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  5. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  6. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  8. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  9. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  10. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  11. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  12. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations