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Lifting the veil of EU lobbying secrecy...

Updated: 2018-04-17T15:24:42.543+02:00


Commission's Refusal to Block Revolving Door triggers Ombudsman Complaint


Corporate Europe Observatory, alongside Greenpeace, Lobbycontrol and Spinwatch, have submitted a complaint about the Commission's repeated refusal to take the revolving door problem seriously. The 'revolving door' describes the movement of staff from public sector positions to lobby jobs in the private sector, or vice versa. The Commission's laissez-faire approach to the revolving door has

What was discussed during Commissioner Rehn's meetings with Goldman Sachs? Euro Commissioner has a transparency problem.


Since the start of the eurocrisis, the European Commission has gained significant new powers to monitor and intervene in government budgets at a member-state level in the name of ‘economic governance’. At the same time, as a member of the Troika (with the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank), the Commission has prescribed controversial austerity and privatisation programmes

Climate sceptics launch Citizens Initiative to suspend EU climate targets - who's paying?


Earlier this month the European Commission gave a green light for the ninth European Citizens Initiative (ECI) – a proposal to “Suspend the 2009 EU Climate & Energy Package”, the EU’s plan for cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 20% and to increase the use of renewable energy by 2020. The organisers can now start collecting the one million signatures needed for the Commission to consider

Better control of EU revolving door needed


The revolving door has been in the headlines again in recent weeks with the speedy departure of a top official from the EU's medicines agency to a prominent law firm. Such moves, known as going through the revolving door, can allow the private sector to 'capture' or unduly influence the work of the public sector and it is vital that all public authorities including the EU agencies and the

DG Enterprise needs to kick corporate lobbyists out of its expert groups


ALTER-EU presented its new report on the dominance of corporate lobbyists in DG Enterprise's expert groups at a packed event in the Residence Palace, Brussels, this week, organised in partnership with the Austrian Trade Union Federation and the Austrian Federal Chamber of Labour. Dennis de Jong MEP and Lluís Prats representing DG Enterprise, both speaking on the panel, told us that the

Severin: Time for action


It is now 16 months since the cash-for-influence scandal rocked the European Parliament and led to the resignation of two MEPs (Ernest Strasser and Zoran Thaler). A third MEP, Adrian Severin of Romania was sacked by the Socialist group but refused to resign from the Parliament. After the scandal, MEPs developed a new Code of Conduct aimed at preventing this from happening again, but it only came

Another year without real transparency


The Transparency Register has not been the success the Commission claims it is. In a recent article in the European Voice (“A year of living transparently”, 21-27 June), Maroš Šefcovic, the European commissioner for administration, describes the Transparency Register as “a great success” and highlights it as proof of the EU institutions’ efforts to be “as transparent as possible”. The Alliance

The MEP code of conduct: six months on


“The new code of conduct will be a strong shield against unethical behaviour.” That was the verdict of the then European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek who had just shepherded the new MEP code of conduct through both his own European People's Party (EPP) group and the rest of Parliament. The development of the code followed the cash-for-influence scandal which saw three MEPs disgraced for

MEPs call for curbs on the revolving door


In recent months, the Parliament has been busy reviewing the Commission's proposal to reform the rules that govern EU officials' terms and conditions. There is a fairly widely-held view amongst the institutions that EU staff must not be excluded from the wider austerity measures which are simultaneously being implemented within member states. Yet, amongst the proposals for longer working hours

The diplomatic door-openers


In her Survival guide to EU lobbying Caroline De Cock, an experienced EU lobbyist, calls senior ex-officials who go through the revolving door into commercial lobbying “door-openers” and she writes “They can be of great value, by opening the door to people and offices that would otherwise remain unattainable to your lobbying efforts”. There can be few more effective door-openers than former

Pro-ACTA lobbies fail on transparency


The European Parliament is facing heavy lobbying in the run-up to a crucial vote on the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). Industry lobby groups are stepping up the pressure to make MEPs vote in favour of this global treaty which has come under heavy criticism from civil society. Almost 2,4 million people signed an Avaaz petition against ACTA, which they fear “could allow

A once in a decade opportunity


You've probably never heard of the 'Staff Regulations of Officials of the European Communities' but this 150-page tome and its associated annexes constitute 'The Bible' of terms of conditions for the 50,000 plus staff who work across the EU institutions and agencies. It also sets out the ethical obligations for staff including around confidentiality and handling conflicts of interest. This

Ex-Commissioners going through the revolving door: transparency promise delayed


In April 2011 following a public outcry about ex-Commissioners going through the revolving door into industry (lobby) jobs, the European Commission introduced a slightly stricter Code of Conduct for Commissioners. No fewer than 6 out of the 13 Commissioners who left in February 2010 went into such jobs, including powerful Commissioners like Gunter Verheugen and Charlie McCreevy, who took a whole

That revolving door just keeps on spinning ... yet the Commission seems unwilling to do anything about it


A couple of weeks ago, the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) launched a new campaign to block the revolving door. Alongside numerous cases of officials, often at the very highest levels in the EU institutions, who have gone through the revolving door to join Brussels' lucrative lobby industry, there was a comprehensive analysis about why the current rules (

Swedish MEP lobbying row underlines need for rules on parliament-industry forums


Swedish environment minister Lena Ek last week came under fire for her role in the European Energy Forum (EEF), a cross-party group of MEPs which is funded by large corporations such as Shell, Nord Stream and Vattenfall. Ek, who acted as vice-chairman of the EEF during her time as an MEP, had failed to formally withdraw from her EEF role when she became environment minister. In an article

Block the revolving door!


Brussels bubble watchers might remember the names of Verheugen, McCreevy, Ferrero-Waldner, Kuneva – all former EU commissioners who left public service and went through the revolving door into lobby jobs or other jobs which provoked conflicts of interest with their former work. Their cases caused a furore and led to the development of a code of conduct for commissioners and some (slightly)

Gifts, shares and other loopholes – the MEP code of conduct


If a week is a long time in politics, then it appears that seven months is a veritable aeon. That's how long it has been since the Sunday Times exposed the cash-for-influence scandal which engulfed three MEPs and caused some soul-searching in the EU's only elected institution. But the shock and embarrassment that this caused seems to have faded into the distant past, at least for some Members.

European Public Affairs Awards Showcase Worst Lobbyists?


Voting closes today for the European Public Affairs Awards, the self-congratulatory awards organised by Brussels lobby consultancy firms and their lobby groups EPACA and SEAP.Categories for the EPA Awards include 'Consultancy of the year', 'Rising Star of the Year' and 'Think-tank of the Year. As in previous years, it is astonishing to see that the EPA award organisers have shortlisted several

UK lobby scandal: lessons from Brussels


UK politics has over the last weeks been shaken by a lobbying scandal that led to the resignation of Defence Secretary Liam Fox. Fox allowed a close friend, Adam Werrity, access to government meetings at the highest level. There are strong indications that Werrity used his access to these meetings to promote the interests of undisclosed industry clients, likely including defence firms. Werrity

Banker and MEP – an unhappy combination


In the latest dramatic episode in the escalating eurocrisis, the troubled Dexia bank has been dismantled and split up into smaller bits (including a large 'bad bank'), most of which have been nationalised and now belong to the French and Belgian governments. Dexia shares had dropped from 20 euro to less than one euro when trading was terminated last week. In assessing the collapse of the bank,

Visit Brussels – the heart of lobbying


Have you noticed the new VisitBrussels promotional video campaign springing up around the city in the last couple of weeks? So far, we've spotted it at Gare du Midi and Place Flagey. Among the glossy photos and promises of fun-filled weekends, is the following image: It's bizarre to think that these particular statistics would encourage anyone to come to Brussels. There again, as Brussels gains

The new MEP code of conduct – the final reckoning


On numerous occasions over the last few months, this blog has focused on the cash-for-influence scandal in the European Parliament and its aftermath – specifically the process to develop a code of conduct for MEPs. Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) has blogged about MEPs and their second jobs which provoke conflicts of interest, MEPs and their illegible financial interest declarations and former

A critical week for European ethics


This is a crucial week for European ethics, not least with an important meeting of the Buzek working group to look at a draft MEP code of conduct and the launch of the joint transparency register between the Parliament and the Commission. So it's very timely that, new draft lobbying legislation will also be launched this week in Austria, massively strengthening the law there as it relates to

Will the European Parliament stay bottom of the league?


As the Buzek working group to develop a code of conduct for MEPs following the cash-for-amendments scandal Corporate Europe Observatory starts to wrap up its work, it could do worse than look at a recent academic study which shows that the European Parliament has one of the weakest regulatory regimes for lobbying in the world.Based on the comments and questions from MEPs when ALTER-EU recently

Back to business as usual for MEPs?


Concerns about excessive bureaucracy, or arbitrary limits being placed on gifts which MEPs can receive, or fears for the careers of MEPs at the end of their term in office, were just some of the disappointing responses when the ALTER-EU coalition gave evidence on the new proposed code of conduct for MEPs on Tuesday night.As a result of the Sunday Times' cash-for-amendments expose earlier this