About CEO

CEO is a European-based research and campaign group targeting the threats to democracy, equity, social justice and the environment posed by the economic and political power of corporations and their lobby groups.

We also (co-)host: WaterJustice as well as the blogs Inside the Brussels Bubble, Climate Crashers and BrusselsSunshine

This website has been declared a GATS FREE ZONE

> Pulling the strings of African Business
  The EU is currently negotiating Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries which pose a serious risk to the development of the countries involved. Email correspondence, obtained by Corporate Europe Observatory, shows that the European Commission has deliberately manipulated African businesses to create support for the negotiations. Read the full report.
Press release

> Corporate-dominated World Water Forum kicks off in Istanbul
  As the Fifth World Water Forum opens (Istanbul, March 16-22), CEO has co-published a paper revealing the continuing influence of water multinationals on the World Water Forum and its agenda. Read the new report "Controlling the agenda at World Water Forum - the multinationals' network"

CEO's Martin Pigeon - together with other water justice activists - will be blogging from Istanbul throughout next week: http://worldwaterforum.blogspot.com/

> EU trade talks: a covert push for water privatisation?
  A new report from Corporate Europe Observatory shows that the EU - while refusing to disclose its objectives in international trade talks - is putting pressure on developing countries to privatise their water services and to make privatisation practically irreversible by including water in trade agreements.
Read the new report EU trade talks: a covert push for water privatisation?

> EU banks on insiders to fix the financial crisis
  A new report from CEO, SpinWatch, Friends of the Earth Europe and LobbyControl takes a look at the members of the High Level Group on the financial crisis set up by the Council and the Commission to write recommendations for a response to the crisis. The report finds the composition to be a clear example of corporate capture. Of the eight men in the group, four are closely linked to financial giants like Goldman Sachs and bankrupt Lehman Brothers, a fifth was responsible for UK Financial Services Authority whose supervision of British bank Northern Rock failed miserably.
Read the new report "Would you bank on them?".
See also the accompanying press release.

> BP - Extracting influence at the heart of the EU
  Oil industry lobbying at the heart of the EU has played a key role in influencing Europe's energy policy, according to a new report from Corporate Europe Observatory and PLATFORM. The report, BP - Extracting Influence at the Heart of the EU, reveals the oil giant's close relationship with decision makers and highlights how the company has convinced Commissioners and others that BP's interests are in the EU's interest - allowing it to promote profit-driven approaches to climate change through emissions trading as well as encouraging risky dependence on Russian gas.

> Veolia Environment -- turning on the taps in Brussels
  New research by Corporate Europe Observatory shows that Veolia Environment, the world's largest water company, does not practice its commitments to sustainability and 'responsible lobbying'. Read full report.
CEO has written to Veolia's Brussels representative to demand that the company abandons its false claims until it significantly improves the transparency around its lobbying activities. French version of the open letter.

> Agrofuels lobby and Finnish MEP win Worst EU Lobbying Awards
  With more than 50% of the votes, the Award for the Worst EU Lobbying 2008 is jointly won by the agrofuel lobbyists of the Malaysian Palm Oil Council, Brazilian sugar barons UNICA and energy company Abengoa Bioenergy. They were jointly nominated for their use of misleading information and greenwash to influence EU decision-making. The Worst Conflict of Interest Award 2008 goes to the Finnish MEP Piia-Noora Kauppi, with 26% of the votes cast. MEP Kauppi has been promoting the interests of her future employer, a banking lobbying group, while still an active member of the European Parliament.

> Watering down the EU?s Climate Policies
  Supposed tough EU measures to tackle climate change have been dramatically weakened following a broad lobbying campaign by different sectors of industry, a new report from Corporate Europe Observatory shows. Business is pushing to reduce the 20% target for renewable energy and key industry sectors have lobbied to reduce the impacts of measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Despite the fine rhetoric, the EU seems reluctant to challenge business when it comes to tackling climate change. Read full report.

> Climate Crash in Strasbourg
  The aviation industry is still seeking to challenge its inclusion in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, concludes a new report from Corporate Europe Observatory. Climate Crash in Strasbourg details how the International Air Transport Association (IATA), national airlines and key member states effectively worked together to weaken original proposals to tackle emissions from aviation ? with the result that the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in Europe will continue to rapidly grow. Read full report.

> EBPS loses its privileged status in the European Parliament, moves out of EP offices
  After years of assisting large corporations with lobbying MEPs, the European Business and Parliament Scheme (EBPS) has now lost its official status vis-a-vis the European Parliament and left its rent-free offices in the Parliament building. In Mid-November, Parliament President Poettering announced that "the Parliament's official participation in the scheme" had come to an end. Poettering moreover announced that he would end his patronage of the international scheme IABP, of which the EBPs is an affiliate. Read more here.

> Brazil's Agrofuel Push
  17-21 November 2008 -- Brazil hosts an International Conference on Biofuels in Sao Paulo, and uses the event to push agressively for increased use of agrofuels. CEO's Nina Holland reports from the conference. Read her daily reports.

> Big business moves in with Commission
  Members of the EU Commission shared a platform with business leaders in October at a conference to assess the effectiveness of the EU?s Global Europe strategy. The event, which was hosted by BusinessEurope in the headquarters of DG Trade in Brussels reflected the intimate working relationship that flourished between government and business under the leadership of former trade commissioner Peter Mandelson. His successor, Baroness Ashton, was one of the speakers at the conference. Corporate Europe Observatory was there and reports back on the events of the day.
Read more on the links between DG Trade and BusinessEurope

> Groups Highlight Brazilian Government?s Damaging Agrofuel Push
  New research from Corporate Europe Observatory reveals how the Brazilian government has been aggressively promoting agrofuels, including ethanol from sugarcane, as sustainable in an attempt to corner the EU market.
EU representatives are travelling to Brazil for an International Biofuel Conference, hosted by the Brazilian government from 17-19 November, but CEO and other campaign groups have written to the EU Council, Commission and MEPs to urge them not to be taken in by the Brazilian government?s PR push. They want the EU to stop providing incentives for agrofuel expansion and to drop agrofuel targets in Europe.
More on EU agrofuels policies

> "Wedding ceremony celebrates EU Commission's love-in with big business"
  28 October - Seattle to Brussels network campaigners today called on Trade Commissioner Baroness Ashton to end the unholy alliance between DG Trade and business lobby group BusinessEurope with a mock wedding celebration outside BusinessEurope's Going Global conference event.

> "Global Europe: An Open Door Policy For Big Business Lobbyists At DG Trade"
  New research from Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) reveals the close involvement of the European employers' federation, BusinessEurope, in drawing up the Global Europe trade strategy. CEO's new report highlights how representatives from BusinessEurope were given privileged access in the preparations of the new strategy, with exclusive meetings with the former Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson and top officials from DG Trade. CEO has written an open letter to Commission President Barroso to urge him to end the privileged access and big business capture of EU trade policy.

> Brazil's Agrofuels Push
  17-21 November 2008 -- CEO's Nina Holland reports from the International Biofuels Conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil..

> Meager harvest: just 5-10% of EU lobbyists now registered
  Three months after the Commission launched its online register for lobbyists, there are just over 370 entries. Numbers aside, Brussels-based lobby consultancies have announced that they will not to disclose the names of clients who don't want to be identified. Will the Commission let them get away with hiding the very information which the register was set up to bring into the public domain? Read more in CEO's new blog: http://blog.brusselssunshine.eu.

> Sugarcane ethanol: a sweet solution for Europe's fuel addiction?
  In spite of overwhelming criticism of agrofuels as a 'solution' to climate change, sugarcane ethanol is often seen as the one more positive exception. The Brazilian government and industry groups are lobbying hard in Brussels in favour of high EU agrofuel targets and for better market access for sugarcane ethanol. However, sugarcane is far from a sustainable source of energy. Certification initiatives such as the 'Better Sugarcane Initiative' are top down approaches that lack support from small producers or affected communities. Read 'Sugarcane ethanol: a sweet solution for Europe's fuel addiction?'.

> Slow and shaky start for EU lobbying register
  More than two months after the European Commission's voluntary lobbying register was launched, only a few large corporations have registered, including Telef?nica, Renault and Air France KLM. There seems to be a very wide variation in their reported lobbying costs, probably as a result of the Commission's failure to provide clear and unambiguous guidelines for calculating lobbying expense. Read more about who registers and who doesn't, what is disclosed and what isn't, in CEO's new blog: http://blog.brusselssunshine.eu.

> ALTER-EU calls upon Commissioners to act against secrecy and corporate capture of 'Expert Groups'
  August 8 -- On behalf of the Steering Committee of the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU), CEO has today written to Commission President Barroso and Vice-President Kallas, asking for clarification about the continued secrecy around the membership of Commission 'Expert Groups'. Letters were also written to Commissioners Verheugen, Potocnik, Piebalgs, Vassiliou and Dimas, asking them to take action against Expert Groups dominated by big business lobbyists.

> Europe's lobbyists under the spotlight as nominations open for the Worst EU Lobbying Awards 2008
  Nominations are now open for the Worst EU Lobbying Awards 2008, which this year includes a new category for the Worst Conflict of Interest in the EU. The Worst EU Lobbying Awards are an important feature on the Brussels' calendar, putting the spotlight on the activities of lobbyists behind closed doors which ultimately undermine democratic decision-making.

Read more and propose your nominations (until 12 September 2008) at www.worstlobby.eu

> Campaign groups protest against European Commission's interventions on behalf of Telecom Italia
  In an open letter launched on June 13, CEO and five other civil society groups and coalitions called on EU Commission President Barroso to stop Commission officials from continuing to intervene on behalf of Telecom Italia in its efforts, via the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) and the New York State Court, to extract excessive and unwarranted compensation for the renationalisation of the Bolivian telecommunications company ENTEL, much to the detriment of the Bolivian people.

> New Website Tracks De-Privatisation of Water Services
  A new website - www.remunicipalisation.org - went live June 12 to highlight the growing trend to return failing privately managed water services to public management. Just this month, the Mayor of Paris announced that the city would be returning services to public management from 2009. France - arguably the heartland of privatised water services - is at the forefront of the remunicipalisation trend that is also manifesting itself in parts of South America, North America and Africa.

> How hired-gun lobbyists pulled the teeth out of new EU lobbyists' register
  It has now become clear that the European Commission's long-awaited lobbyists register will be extremely unambitious. Registration will be on a voluntary basis and the Commission will not ask organisations or firms to disclose the names of individual lobbyists. What is more, the financial transparency requirements for consultancy firms, who lobby on behalf of big business clients, have been seriously diluted. This watering down is a direct result of lobbying by EPACA, which represents the largest 'hired-gun' lobbyists' firms in Brussels. Read CEO's analysis "How hired-gun lobbyists pulled the teeth out of new EU lobbyists' register".

> News from Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) talks in Bonn
  Bonn, 19 May -- The biosafety negotiations in Bonn last week ended without a legally binding agreement on who could be held liable and pay compensation in case of damage due to GM crops.
Read more

> Biodiversity talks hi-jacked by corporate interests
  International negotiations on the UN Convention on Biodiversity take place in Bonn from 12th- 30th May, with the latest round of talks on the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, an international agreement designed to protect biodiversity (COP9/MOP4). But campaigners have criticised the talks, which they say have been hijacked by the interests of industry. In the name of conservation, human rights are being violated, agricultural products are being turned into fuel; plants are patented and trees are being genetically modified. Corporate Europe Observatory will be joining activists from around the world as part of the Activism Network for COP9 to monitor the role of industry at the conference and highlight the damage being done. Find out more?
Read more

> Turkey's Government Plans Sweeping Water Privatisation in Run-up to World Water Forum in Istanbul
  In March 2009 the Turkish government will host the fifth World Water Forum against a backdrop of what is probably the most sweeping water privatisation programme in the world. As well as privatizing water services, the government plans to sell of rivers and lakes. Turkish social movements, who hosted their own conference in Istanbul last month, suspect the Government is using the World Water Forum to push through this highly controversial agenda.
Read more

> Joint report calls Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) 'greenwash'
  The new report is published just before the start of the Round Table on Responsible Soy?s third conference in Buenos Aires. The authors reveal that the Round Table will certify (GM) soy production as 'responsible', while not doing anything against soy expansion that destroys small scale farmers and natural ecosystems. Corporations involved in the RTRS are at the same time lobbying for ways to expand their markets and for a break down of the EU GMO policy. The RTRS is turning into an instrument to legitimise the EU's much criticised push for agrofuels.
Read more

> Industry Pushes For 25% Agrofuel Target
  Despite the growing controversy around the EU's 10% target for agrofuel use in transport, industry is pushing towards an even higher target. Working via the European Biofuels Technology Platform, corporations are channelling EU funding towards research on meeting a 25% target for agrofuels by 2030, to the detriment of the environment and the world's poor.

> ALTER-EU report slams corporate dominance in EU advisory groups
  A report published March 25th by the ALTER-EU coalition reveals that industry lobbyists have an disproportionate presence in Expert Groups advising the European Commission on controversial policy issues such as biotechnology, 'clean coal' and car emissions. The ALTER-EU report recommends that Expert Groups dominated by industry should be dissolved and that safeguards must be introduced to prevent privileged access. The report also slams the Commission's lack of transparency and demands immediate disclosure of Expert Group membership. Read the report "Secrecy and corporate dominance - a study on the composition and transparency of European Commission Expert Groups"

> Commission backtracking from transparency promises; will the parliament end lobbying secrecy?
  As the European Commission is preparing the launch of its long-awaited EU lobbyists' register, there is reason to fear that the new register "may eventually not even contain lobbyists' names, and only very general and limited information on how much money is spent trying to influence EU decisions". Read CEO's appeal to the Commission to stick to its promises (published in the European Voice): "Crunch-time for lobbying" and our comment on the European Parliament's discussions on these issues (published by EUobserver): "Will the parliament end lobbying secrecy?".

> The Story of a Dutch Letterbox which Could Cost Bolivia a Fortune
  15 February 2008 -- Running their business via a letterbox company in the Netherlands, transnational corporations profit from the corporate-friendly Dutch tax regime and bilateral investment treaties the Netherlands has with third countries. Euro Telecom Italia (ETI), a subsidiary of Italian telecoms giant ENTEL, is one such letterbox company. ETI recently lodged a complaint with the World Bank tribunal ICSID against Bolivia for compensation, after the Bolivian government had launched a review the company's much-criticised performance and attempted to negotiate a buy back of what used to be a public telecommunications company. Although ENTEL continues to operate with profit in Bolivia, it claims the government has 'destroyed' the company's investments and its earning potential. Will the World Bank tribunal reward corporate greed at the expense of the public interest in reliable and affordable public services?

> Protests against EU research agenda on biofuels
  31 January 2008 -- Civil society groups today demonstrated in front of a gathering of the European Biofuels Technology Platform (EBFTP) in Brussels, protesting against the plans of this industry-led EU advisory group for a dramatic boost of Europe's target for agrofuels use in transport to 25% (by 2030). The EBFTP, dominated by oil, car and biotech companies, met to launch the EU's Strategic Research Agenda and Strategy Deployment Document. Earlier in January, six organisations and networks sent a letter of protest to Research Commissioner Janez Potoc(nik about the role of the European Biofuels Technology Platform in allocating EU research funding.

> Renewables Directive: agrofuel target is 'irresponsible and unsustainable'
  23 January 2008 -- The European Commission's draft EU Renewable Energy Directive, published today, ignores numerous recent warnings on the environmental and social damage of its proposed 10 per cent target for agrofuel use in the transport sector by 2020. Civil society groups will continue their campaigning towards EU governments and the European Parliament to ensure that the EU's target for agrofuels is dropped and a moratorium on incentives for agrofuel expansion is introduced.
> BMW, Daimler and Porsche win "Worst EU Lobbying Award"; German Atomic Forum lands "Worst EU Greenwash" prize
  German car manufacturers BMW, Daimler and Porsche were disgraced on 4th of December when they were named winners of the 'Worst EU Lobbying' Award 2007. The German Atomic Forum was also named and shamed with a special prize for 'Worst EU Greenwash' at a ceremony in Brussels.

Information about the winners and runners-up, and coverage of the awards ceremony: www.worstlobby.eu

> Paving the way for agrofuels;
EU policy, sustainability criteria,
and climate calculations
  According to a new report by CEO and Carbon Trade Watch, published to coincide with the European Parliament vote on the Thomsen Report on renewable energy, EU criteria for 'sustainable' agrofuels are set on a collision course with the EU's proposed target.
> Hired-gun lobbyists in last-ditch battle against EU transparency plans
  After two years of heated debate around the European Transparency Initiative (ETI), the European Commission in March announced it will launch a voluntary EU lobbyists' register, starting in spring 2008. The Commission expects all EU lobbyists to provide transparency about on whose behalf they lobby and with what budgets. Lobby consultancy firms united in EPACA and its sister organisation SEAP have reacted with aggressive counter-campaigning against the plans, threatening to boycott the register. Will the Commission and the Parliament stand firm against this backlash from vested interests?

> The Revolving Door Temptation
  Michiel van Hulten, former Member of the European Parliament and until recently chair of the Dutch Social Democratic party PvdA, is joining the Brussels office of the controversial lobbying consultancy giant Burson-Marsteller. Van Hulten is one of many former MEPs that have gone through the revolving door in recent years, to Brussels-based consultancies that serve big business clients.

> Campaigners challenge corporate agenda during Stockholm Water Week
  This week in Stockholm, it's time for the 17th edition of World Water Week. This annual global water policy conference, originally founded by the local public water utility, has become increasingly industry-dominated and is this year sponsored by Nestle. Activists, trade unionists and progressive public water managers from Asia, Europe and the Americas attend the event to advocate alternatives to privatisation and commodification of the world's water.

Read their blog reports from Stockholm online at: http://worldwaterweek.blogspot.com

> Ombudsman rejects Commission secrecy over business lobbyists' names
  Amsterdam, 19 July 2007 - Corporate Europe Observatory welcomes the European Ombudsman's conclusion that data protection and privacy rules do not justify secrecy around the names of industry lobbyists. Ombudsman Nikiforis Diamandouros describes the European Commission's practice of blanking out of lobbyists' names in documents released under EU access to document rules as "maladministration". Diamandouros, however, postpones taking action to make the Commission end this malpractice until the European Court of Justice has delivered its judgement in a pending case on data protection versus access to documents.

Read more about CEO's victory in the Ombudsman case.

> Lobbying the EU by Committee
  Unknown to most citizens, a large part of European Union legislation is being drafted and fine-tuned by literally thousands of unknown and hardly accountable expert groups, advisory committees and working groups. Industry lobbyists, for whom European Commission expert groups are a major focus, often succeed in getting a seat or a position of dominance within these opaque but powerful bodies. For too long this large and critical part of the EU decision-making process has remained pretty much in the dark. Following intense pressure from the European Parliament, the European Commission may finally accede to demands for improved transparency over its expert groups..

Read the briefing "Lobbying the EU by Committee - the strategies of corporate influence in the Commission's expert groups, Council's working groups and Comitology committees".

> Awarding deception: Rewarded for anti-Kyoto lobbying?
  Nicolas Robin, lobbying consultant and associate director at Brussels-based lobbying firm Cabinet Stewart has been nominated as 'European consultant of the year'. The nomination refers to Mr. Robin's work for the International Council for Capital Formation (ICCF), a front group that is campaigning aggressively in Brussels against the Kyoto Protocol and other government efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Read more

Whether or not Mr. Robin wins the Public Affairs News Award on 5 July, he will be in the dock later his year, when on line voting starts for the 'Worst EU Lobbying' Award 2007.

> The EU's agrofuel folly: policy capture by corporate interests
  Despite growing public concern about social and environmental risks as well as problematic climate impacts, the European Union is throwing its weight behind the promotion of agrofuels (more frequently referred to as biofuels). A new CEO report uncovers how the EU's promotion of agrofuels has been heavily influenced by corporate interests, including car manufacturers, biotech companies and the oil industry. On the invitation of the European Commission, these industries have steered EU policy on agrofuels through industry-dominated advisory bodies such as BIOFRAC and EBFTP.

See also: EU agrofuels and climate change policies.

> "Stop Water Privatisation - Alternatives to the PPIAF", The Hague, 22 & 23 May
  The Public Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility (PPIAF) is a little known World Bank agency that promotes the privatisation of key sectors in developing countries such as water, energy and telecommunications. The PPIAF's annual meeting is being hosted by the Dutch government and held in The Hague on 23-24 May. Civil society groups will gather in The Hague for an international forum to oppose a dangerous proposal to further expand the mandate of the PPIAF.

> Davignon's conflicts of interest: unanswered questions
  In response to concerns raised about Suez lobbyist Etienne Davignon's status as a Special Adviser, EU Development Commissioner Michel argues that there are "no conflicts of interest". Numerous questions, however, remain unanswered. Has Davignon's advice influenced the allocation of EU development aid? Has his advice on how to "mobilise the private sector" directly or indirectly advanced the commercial interests of electricity and water giant Suez?
Read more

> Murky water - PPIAF, PSEEF and other examples of EU aid promoting water privatisation
  Much to the horror of civil society groups, the European Commission has started funding the Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility (PPIAF), a controversial pro-privatisation agency operating under the wings of the World Bank. In addition to supporting the PPIAF, the Commission has also launched its own mechanism based on a similar philosophy, the Private Sector Enabling Environment Facility (PSEEF), with a budget of 20 million euro.

> Car industry flexes its muscles, Commission bows down
  16 March 2007 -- In a major test case of its commitment to seriously tackling CO2, the European Commission has bowed to an intensive lobbying campaign by the automobile industry and watered down its proposals for reducing emissions from cars. This does not bode well for the Commission?s ability to act in the public interest and take the difficult decisions needed to halt climate change.
Read more

> World Water Day statement criticises EU aid and trade policies
  16 March 2007 -- In the run up to World Water Day (22 March), over 60 civil society and labour organisations from Europe and around the world have published a critical statement about the policies of the European Commission regarding water and sanitation in developing countries. The statement has also been published in the European Voice newspaper, as an advert paid for by contributions from the endorsing organisations.

> ExxonMobil funds global warming sceptics - will Brussels clear the air?
  ExxonMobil has for years donated tens of thousands of dollars to Europe-based think-tanks which are ardent opponents of the EU's efforts to combat climate change. Commissioner Siim Kallas upcoming lobbyist rulebook is one chance to lift the veil of secrecy around this practice, but will he deliver? See also the shorter version of the article which was published by EUobserver.

> European Commission releases list of special advisers, takes action on conflict of interests and fraud
  9 March 2007 -- This week, the European Commission for the first time ever published a list of the names and mandates of special advisers to EU Commissioners, 55 in total. In the list of special advisers, the name of Suez lobbyist Etienne Davignon stands out as an another case where conflicts of interest seem very likely to occur. Read more about this important step towards transparency and the cases of conflicts of interest and fraud that have surfaced since the release of the list.

> Lobbyists oppose financial transparency
  21 February 2007 -- Today, Brussels reporter David Gow reveals in The Guardian how UK lobbyists are trying to stop EU rules on financial transparency for lobbyists active in Brussels. The minutes of a members meeting of the Association of Professional Political Consultants gives some insight in how this anti-transparency campaign has been planned.

> CEO applauds European Commission action against special adviser's conflicts of interest
  20 February 2007 -- Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) applauds Commissioner Kallas' unprecedented decision to terminate Mr. Rolf Linkohr's status as special adviser to Energy Commissioner Piebalgs. Mr. Linkohr is the director of C.E.R.E.S, a Brussels-based consultancy that is specialised in lobbying for large energy companies, including many nuclear energy producers.

> CEO reacts to a statement by Mr. Rolf Linkohr
  20 February 2007 -- On the website of the Centre for European Energy Strategy (C.E.R.E.S.), Mr. Rolf Linkohr has published a statement in which he denies that his directorship at the commercial lobbying consultancy C.E.R.E.S. (having clients in the energy industry) conflicted with his role of special adviser to Energy Commissioner Piebalgs. Read CEO's reaction to Mr. Linkohr's statement.

> The conflicting interests of Rolf Linkohr
  19 February 2007 -- On 16 January, CEO wrote two letters to the Commission, expressing concern about the fact that Rolf Linkohr "at the same time directs a commercial lobbying consultancy and acts as a special adviser to the Energy Commissioner". The Financial Times reports today that per 1 February, Rolf Linkohr is no longer a special adviser to Energy Commissioner Piebalgs because he did not confirm in time that there is no possible conflict of interest.

> Open Letter to EPACA chairman
  13 February 2007 -- For the record: letter to John Houston, chairman of the Brussels lobbying consultancies lobby EPACA, reacting to Houston's wild and unsubstantiated accusations against CEO and ALTER-EU in a recent book on EU lobbying.

> Open Letter Calls Upon EU to Halt Destructive Biofuels Boost
  The European Commission's plans for expanding biofuel use in transport would result in a massive increase in imports of biofuels from countries in the South, with disastrous social and environmental impacts. The Open Letter calling for a moratorium on biofuel targets is still open for sign-on.

> ExxonMobil Wins Worst EU Lobby Awards 2006
  Over 9400 people took part in an online poll to decide the winners of this year's awards. In the "Worst EU Lobbying" category, ExxonMobil was the clear winner, gaining almost half of the votes cast. The oil giant continues to pay climate sceptics to manipulate the EU debate, while keeping much of this funding away from public scrutiny. For more information, go to http://www.worstlobby.eu/winners.html.

> Nuclear Power Grab
  13 December 2006 -- New CEO report documents the nuclear industry lobbying offensive ahead of a crucial vote in the European Parliament later this week. The nuclear lobby group FORATOM aims to replace binding renewable energy targets with 'low-carbon technologies' targets. This could create massive new momentum for nuclear energy in Europe.
Read the pdf version of the report.
Update on the vote in the Parliament

> Brussels think tanks persist in funding secrecy
  07 December 2006 -- A new survey undertaken by CEO demonstrates that most EU think tanks remain seriously untransparent about their sources of funding. Large corporations, moreover, almost without exception fail to disclose their financial support for these institutions. A particularly problematic example is that of ExxonMobil, which continues to fuel the work of climate skeptical thinktanks like the Brussels-based International Council for Capital Formation with hundred of thousands of euros per year. The oil giant keeps most of these funding flows hidden from public scrutiny.
Read more

> Message to Commissioner Mandelson and Finnish Presidency: Stop privileged access of services industry lobby
  30 November 2006 -- The organisers of the Worst EU Lobby Awards 2006 urge EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson and the Finnish Presidency to cancel participation of EU trade officials and Member State trade experts in a closed meeting annex cocktail party organised by the European Services Forum next Monday 4 December in Brussels.
Read more

> Worst EU Lobby Award 2006 - Vote Now!
  This year, the voting for the awards takes place in two different categories: 'the Worst EU Lobbying' for that lobbyist who goes the extra mile in deception and spin; and 'The Worst Privileged Access' for the public servant or politician who's just too cosy with a particular lobby group. Select your winners in the two categories, go to: http://www.worstlobby.eu

> Whatever happened to... the Campaign for Creativity (C4C)
  With the preparations for the Worst EU Lobby Awards 2006 in full swing, you might be wondering whatever happened to last year's winner: the Campaign for Creativity (C4C)? Read our new report on C4C's reincarnation as the Innovation and Creativity Group.

> Transparency Boost Needed for European Parliament Cross-Party Groups
  The European Energy Forum takes MEPs on an adventurous trip to the Arctic region, sponsored by a large oil firm. The secretariat of the Sky and Space Intergroup is run by the Aerospace and Defence Industries Association of Europe. Cross-party groups are an increasingly popular way for business lobbyists to mingle with and influence select groups of MEPs.

> Privileged access for business lobbyists at Asia-Europe Summit
  Back-to-back with the official Asia-Europe summit (ASEM) in Helsinki on 10-11 September, the Asia-Europe Business Forum (AEBF) will meet to finalise its recommendations to the ASEM governments. The AEBF's privileged access and influence is based on far-reaching support from the EU Commission and EU governments.

> CEO reaction to Green Paper European Transparency Initiative
  In May the European Commission issued a Green Paper on the European Transparency Initiative, containing chapters on lobbying transparency, consultation practices of the European Commission and transparency on recipients of EU funds.
On 31 August CEO has submitted reactions to the first two chapters:
CEO reaction to chapter 1 of the ETI Green Paper (lobbying transparency)
CEO reaction to chapter 2 of the ETI Green Paper (Commission consultation practices)
For news on the campaign for lobbying transparency: www.alter-eu.org

> Moment of Truth Nears in EU Lobby Debate
  In May 2006 European Commissioner Kallas presented a Green Paper with proposals for how to improve the "visibility" around the activities of the estimated 15,000 lobbyists in Brussels. While the Commissioner deserves praise for taking up these issues within the European Transparency Initiative (ETI), the proposals in the Green Paper are seriously inadequate. In the Autumn, the Commission will decide the final shape of the ETI. The stakes are very high: this decision will de facto determine the situation around EU lobbying for the coming decade.

> EU-Latin America Business Summit in Vienna
  While one Latin American government after the other turns its back on failed neoliberal policies, the EU hopes to use the 4th EU-Latin America/Caribbean Summit in Vienna May 12th to steamroll ahead with talks on a whole range of new 'free trade' agreements. The gathering of large corporations from both regions at a parallel Business Summit aims to increase the pressure on those governments who question the EU's agenda.

> Discover the secretive world of EU lobbying through new website
  In addition to our regular walking tours in Brussels, CEO has now launched a new website featuring a virtual tour of the EU quarter: www.eulobbytours.org. During the cyber-tour (including video, 3-D animated images and short texts), you will be introduced to the headquarters of lobby groups, think tanks, individual corporations, PR companies, law firms and other key players in EU corporate politics, all located conveniently close to the corridors of power.

> Aquafed - another pressure group for private water
  In response to the growing backlash against privatisation, water giant Suez recently established the International Federation of Private Water Operators (AquaFed). For a critical assessment of this deeply untransparent new lobby group, see the report "Aquafed - another pressure group for private water" (published by the European Federation of Public Service Unions - EPSU).

> World Water Forum: cracks in the neoliberal consensus?
  Negative experiences with water privatisation in many countries are undermining the neoliberal prescriptions that long dominated the international water debate. This will undoubtedly be visible during the Fourth World Water Forum (Mexico City, March 16-22) and even more so in parallel events like the International Forum in Defence of Water. The new CEO briefing "Water almost out of GATS?" shows that civil society pressure to exclude water services from the WTO's GATS negotiations is having an impact, but that the battle is not yet won.

> 'Campaign for Creativity' wins Worst EU Lobbying Award 2005
  No less than 85% of the over 8000 people that took part in the online voting identified 'Campaign for Creativity' as the most manipulative corporate lobby campaign of the year. Numbers two and three are ExxonMobil and EPEE, both nominated for their use of deceptive tactics to undermine EU efforts to halt climate change. For the final voting figures, responses from the winner and runners-up, photos and video from the award ceremony as well as background information on the ten nominees, go to http://www.worstlobby.eu

  'Reclaiming Public Water' network launched at Madrid seminar
Campaigners, unionists and water professionals representing over fifteen countries from across the globe, came together for a seminar in Madrid (Spain) on 17-18 November 2005. The seminar participants decided to launch the ?Reclaiming Public Water? network in order to strengthen the international voice of those promoting progressive models of public water delivery. Read the full summary of the seminar outcomes.

> Chilling Intent; the F-gas Industry Plot to Subvert EU Climate Legislation
  This report (October 2005) examines how a group of largely US-based chemicals producers set up the European Partnership for Energy and the Environment (EPEE) to gain early access to the European Commission in order to influence a legislative proposal to restrict the use of so-called F-gases (potent greenhouse gases) in the EU. On November 22 the BBC's File On 4 revealed that MEPs in the final decision on the issue were 'scaremongered to vote no' to bans on F-gases.

> Who's Paying for the Brussels Think Tank Boom?

Think tanks are increasingly important players in EU capital Brussels, but their influence is most often not matched with basic financial transparency, including about their sources of funding. The least transparent are the radical "free market" think tanks, as documented in the two new CEO briefings "Transparency unthinkable?" and "Covert industry funding fuels the expansion of radical rightwing EU think tanks".

> Debate about EU Lobbying Disclosure Hots Up

In March 2005, European Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas presented the European Transparency Initiative, including binding transparency rules for lobbyists. Civil society groups have formed the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) which calls for "ending corporate privileges and secrecy around lobbying in the European Union". The lobbying debate has intensified as the result of the increasing use of deceptive tactics by industry, of which the "Campaign for Creativity" (promoting software patents) is just one example. For a full overview of the EU lobbying debate click here.

> Bulldozing REACH - the industry offensive to crush EU chemicals regulation

The EU's REACH proposal for improved regulation of chemicals has sparked the largest ever industry lobbying campaign in Europe. Scare mongering, flawed impact studies and delay tactics are part of this aggressive counter-campaign that has seriously weakened REACH.

> House of Mirrors - Burson-Marsteller Brussels lobbying for the bromine industry

In this first in a new series of in-depth articles on deceptive corporate lobbying and spin in EU capital Brussels, Corporate Europe Observatory presents the case of the Bromine Science and Environmental Forum (BSEF).

> New book: Reclaiming Public Water - Achievements, Struggles and Visions from Around the World

Reclaiming Public Water is written by public water utility managers, trade unionists and civil society activists from more than twenty countries. The book (co-published by Transnational Institute and Corporate Europe Observatory) is also available online.

> 'Lobby Planet' Guide to Brussels

CEO's new 24-page 'Lobby Planet' Guide to Brussels is now available online.

Nederlandstalige editie

Want to order a print copy?

Burson-Marsteller CEO comments on Lobby Planet Guide.

> Power Struggles over Biotech in Brussels

Biotech companies, NGOs and EU institutions are engaged in a fierce, unfinished battle over new rules on genetically modified food and agriculture. Read the new CEO briefing: Power Struggles over Biotech in Brussels.

> Mandelson in denial over incestuous relations DG Trade with big business

According to media reports, designate EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson pulled off "a bravura performance" at his confirmation hearing in the European Parliament on October 4th. Living up to his reputation as a spinmeister, Mandelson elegantly avoided answering inconvenient questions about the privileged power of lobby groups like the Transatlantic Business Dialogue.

> Map of the corporate lobbying labyrinth

CEO has produced a map of the EU quarter of Brussels, with lots of background reading on the influence of industry lobby groups, think-tanks and PR firms over EU decision-making.

> New edition of Europe Inc.

A new edition of CEO's Europe Inc.; Regional & Global Restructuring and the Rise of Corporate Power is available from Pluto Press.

> Competing Ourselves to Death?

Industry lobby groups cheered when the EU's Spring Summit agreed to do 'business impact assessments' for all new EU legislation and re-evaluate EU climate change policies. This year's European Business Summit showed that industry's list of 'obstacles to competitiveness' ranges from chemical safety rules over GM food restrictions to 'insufficient' military budgets. Read the full article (HTML and PDF versions).

> Shell Leads International Business Campaign Against UN Human Rights Norms

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and other corporate lobby groups have launched a fierce lobbying campaign aimed to kill off the proposed UN Norms on Business and Human Rights. Self-proclaimed CSR champion Shell plays a leading role. Read the Info Brief (HTML and PDF versions) and Shell's response.

> Welcome to the EC's Hall of Shame

September 2003 -- In the run-up to the decisive WTO summit in Cancun, CEO has launched a new website exposing the shameful record of the European Commission (EC) and Trade Commissioner Lamy in WTO negotiations. The above link is to the Flash version of the site; an HTML and PDF version is also available here.

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