Wednesday

24th May 2017

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."

MEPs vote to start democracy probe on Hungary

The European Parliament took the first step towards launching the Article 7 procedure against Hungary for backsliding on democracy. The process might lead to sanctions, but Orban is not backing down.

MEPs preparing to crack down on Orban

The EU assembly's largest group is split by its "enfant terrible", but enough MEPs are likely to abstain or vote Yes on the "Article 7" crackdown over Orban's illiberal rule.

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.

Analysis

Where might Macron clash with Europe?

After the celebrations around Europe of centrist Emmanuel Macron's win over far-right Marine Le Pen, the sobering years of governance are still to come. Macron might be pro-EU, but he has a lot of reform ideas that might irk others.

Schulz fails to beat Merkel in German home state

Former EU parliament leader, Martin Schulz, says the defeat of his social-democrats in North Rhine-Westphalia is "difficult". The elections showed that a "Schulz effect" does not (yet) exist.

Austria heading for snap elections

Foreign minister Kurz has taken leadership of the conservative party in what could lead to an alliance with the far-right.

News in Brief

  1. Pressure grows on climate impact of EU timber harvesting
  2. US goes after Fiat Chrysler over emissions cheat
  3. Munich police break up Europe-wide burglar clan
  4. Report: VW threatened with €19.7 billion French fine
  5. Turkey begins mass trial of suspected coup leaders
  6. Merkel's CDU consolidates lead in polls
  7. France to host Russian president
  8. Switzerland votes against nuclear power

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