• The record of a Captive Commission | Corporate Europe Observatory

    With the upcoming European elections, the term of the European Commission is coming to an end, and it has been a term like few others. Since it took office in early 2010, the European Union has experienced a severe financial and economic crisis that has transformed the bloc significantly. More competence over economic and fiscal policies has been given to the EU institutions in general, and the power of the Commission in particular has been boosted. Through the course of the crisis, attempts by corporations and corporate lobby groups to influence EU policies have probably been more successful than ever, in part due to a close relationship with the Commission.


    Corporate Europe Observatory has gathered a lot of evidence over time and covering many different areas that shows how the Commission is easily captured by corporate interests. This report is an attempt to produce a condensed version of how the Commission has come to act on behalf of corporations over the past five years, focusing on climate policies, agriculture and food, finance, economic, and fiscal policies.

    In short, European corporations have been very successful in exploiting the crisis to forward their own agendas, and the help of the European Commission has been instrumental in that effort. That is partly due to the composition of the Commission, but there is more to it than that.

    The European Commission is a very powerful body. It has the monopoly on legislative proposals – all suggestions tabled in the European Union come from the Commission. And yet it is unelected, and not directly accountable to anyone. Also, the Commission generally lives its life at a comfortable distance to public debate. There is little chance that the concerns of citizens will reach the chambers of the Commission unfiltered.

    On the other hand, it is a body that is easy to penetrate for corporate lobby groups with ample financial resources, for various reasons. For instance, the fact that the Commission has relatively few economic resources itself, with little in-house expertise, makes it all the more easy for corporate lobby groups to step in and influence the agenda.

    Thus an increase in the competence of the Commission tends to be directly proportional with corporate capture of EU decision making, which is why the current trend in that direction should raise concern. From the very beginning the Barroso II Commission has followed a corporate agenda, and its close links to the biggest corporations and banks in the European Union is a key trait of the current European project......


  • Barroso II Commission too close to big business | Corporate Europe Observatory

    Today the lobby watchdog Corporate Europe Observatory released a critical report on the record of the European Commission over the last five years. The report sums up the record of the outgoing Barroso II Commission, in particular how the Commission has interacted with big business lobby groups during its term. It provides an overview of the role of the Commission in key areas, including international trade, financial regulation, climate change, agriculture, and the response to the crisis. The release coincides with the start of the European Business Summit, Brussels’ biggest lobbying event organised by employers’ federation BusinessEurope, where corporate CEOs enjoy unrivaled access to Europe’s commissioners and political leaders, it is an event where, in its own words, “business and politics shape the future”.

    The critique of the Commission in the report is severe. It concludes that the Commission has pursued a corporate agenda, with little regard for other interests in society. On top of this, the Commission has fought tooth and nail to avoid effective regulation of lobbyists, including by opposing a mandatory register and avoiding serious reform of its advisory structure, with its so-called expert groups dominated by big business representatives in many areas.

    Kenneth Haar, co-author of the report, said:
    “The Barroso II Commission is the European Commission at its worst. With the crisis, it has managed to expand its competence, and has used its new powers to impose policies that fit neatly with the interests of big business. This will be a term that Europeans won’t forget any time soon. It leaves the Commission with less legitimacy.”...............

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