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Corporate Europe Observer - Issue 12

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Countdown to Rio +10: 'Sustainable Development' and the Public-Private Pantomime

As the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) approaches, conflicts intensify between North and South, civil society and industry. Northern governments continue to stubbornly defend corporate-led globalisation, including market liberalisation and privatisation of public services, as part of 'sustainable development'. Tensions grew at the final preparatory conference before the Johannesburg summit, where the NGO mining caucus decided to boycott the summit in protest against the corporate bias in the WSSD process and against greenwash projects receiving the UN's seal of approval.


Over 2,200 people from the corporate world, governments and EU institutions as well as a handful of NGO representatives attended the second European Business Summit, from 6-8 June in Brussels. The official theme was "Sustainable development in an enlarged Europe", but the main demand coming from this year's EBS was for a further boost in the powers of the European Commission in order to speed up the neoliberal reforms in the EU. The Commission was not only present in large numbers but effectively co-organised the event.

Social Responsibility and the Mechanical Bull: The International Chamber of Commerce Dresses for Success

Laura Miller of PR Watch reports on the 34th World Congress of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). Over 700 business leaders gathered for a three-day conference in Denver, Colorado, to discuss corporate social responsibility, partnerships with NGOs, and the upcoming World Summit on Sustainable Development. The main messages from the carefully orchestrated event: liberalised markets and 'free trade' will save the world and international rules on business are not needed.

Academia: a partner for advancing the corporate agenda?

This article reviews two books on EU-level business associations by Scottish academic Justin Greenwood. Behind the sometimes dry academic language in these publications there is the reality of disturbingly close connections between academics and the Brussels lobbying fraternity. Greenwood is a prime example of an academic scholar who helps to advance the corporate agenda.

Ombudsman Slams Commission Over TABD Secrecy

In a June 2002 decision, European Ombudsman Jacob Söderman condemned the European Commission's secrecy about the Transatlantic Business Dialogue (TABD). For over two years the Commission has refused Corporate Europe Observatory access to key documents about its involvement in the business dialogue. The Ombudsman states that is not up to the Commission "to say which documents might or might not be useful for citizens in carrying out monitoring of the Commission's exercise of its powers."

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