About CEO

Corporate Europe Observer - Issue 8
    home > observer 8 > brittan

Former Trade Commissioner Now Lobbies for Services Industry

"When I was the EU Commissioner responsible for trade negotiations I invited business leaders to become more involved. [...] Now that I am in the private sector myself, I am especially pleased to take on the Chairmanship of the high-level LOTIS Group." - Lord Brittan of Spennithorne [1]

n 7 February 2001, former EU Trade Commissioner Leon Brittan became Chairman of the LOTIS Committee of International Financial Services London (IFSL), a lobby group representing the UK financial industry. [2] In the coming months Brittan will be busily lobbying the European Commission on talks over liberalisation of services in the WTO (GATS 2000) that have just entered a second stage. WTO member states agreed on negotiating guidelines in the last week of March 2001.

Shameless Moves As Yet Unchallenged

Brussels seems to have already forgotten the scandal surrounding the demise of the Santer Commission and that of Industry Commissioner Martin Bangemann when he took up a top job at Telefónica in 1999. The European Parliament, which made such a noise over Bangemann's new position two years ago, has been remarkably complacent about Brittan's career moves since he left Brussels in September 1999.

Lord Brittan became Vice-Chairman of the investment bank UBS Warburg just three months after quitting as Trade Commissioner [3], and joined the London-based international law consultancy Herbert Smith on 1 January 2000, as part-time consultant on World Trade Organisation (WTO) issues. [4] A few months later he was appointed Advisory Director at Unilever. [5]

Old Boys Network

Brittan took over the LOTIS Chairmanship from his long-standing ally Andfdrew Buxton. The working relationship of the two men dates from the days when Buxton (then Chairman of Barclays Bank) was lobbying Commissioner Brittan on behalf of the Financial Leaders Group (FLG) during the WTO Uruguay Round and during negotiation of the WTO Financial Services Agreement. Brittan has said that he "appreciated the input of the FLG in the run-up to and during the final stages of the WTO agreement on financial services in 1997. All this demonstrates how important it is for companies to be involved at the most senior level."[6] In 1998, Brittan invited Buxton to set up the European Services Network (later renamed European Services Forum (ESF)) and the European Services Leaders Group (ESLG), a high profile pressure group modelled on the Financial Leaders Group, consisting of some 40 Chief Executive Officers from across the European services industry. [7]

Making the Business Voice Heard

"My conclusion is that the WTO does matter to business [...]. If there are serious economic interests internationally in trade or investment terms that you wish to advance or defend, [...] the WTO matters and is available to the business community." — Sir Leon Brittan [8]

After taking up his position as Chair of the LOTIS Committee, Brittan wrote that "the business voice must make itself heard above the noise being generated from other sources threatening the ongoing health of the system."[9] While acknowledging that "the more responsible and serious minded [...] non-governmental organisations have staked a claim in the international debate" on "globalisation, the international institutions and the WTO in particular", and saying that "we [his corporate audience] cannot afford to ignore them", he asserted that: "[w]hat we have to do is to take the debate on and win it."[10] That trick might have worked a few years ago. But after losing his brainchild the Millennium Round in Seattle, corporate politician Brittan could be in for another defeat.


International Financial Services, London

World Trade Organisation

European Services Forum


UBS Warburg



European Industry in Seattle

WTO Millennium Bug: TNC Control Over Global Trade Politics

Back to Business: Revolving Doors in Brussels



Sign the Stop the GATS Attack! Statement


World Development Movement

Education International

People and Planet

Public Services International Research Unit

Public Citizen


1.Lord Brittan of Spennithorne, Liberalising World Trade: Why Business Must Make Its Voice Heard, IFSL World, Edition 1, Spring 2001 <http://www.bi.org.uk/html/2001.html> | Back to Text |

2."Lord Brittan to Chair City's Trade Liberalisation Group", IFSL press release, 7 February 2001 <http://www.bi.org.uk/html/2325.html> | Back to Text |

3.Sir Leon Brittan to join Warburg Dillon Read as Vice Chairman, UBS Warburg press release, 1 October 1999 <http://www.ubswarburg.com/e/press/corporate/991001.shtml> | Back to Text |

4.Sir Leon Brittan to join Herbert Smith as a consultant, Herbert Smith press release, 19 October 1999 | Back to Text |

5.Unilever announces three new directors, Unilever press release, 22 February 2000 <http://www.unilever.com/Search/show.asp?articleid=1776> | Back to Text |

6.Lord Brittan of Spennithorne, Liberalising World Trade : Why Business Must Make Its Voice Heard, IFSL World, Edition 1, Spring 2001 <http://www.bi.org.uk/html/2001.html> | Back to Text |

7.GATS: "First and Foremost for the Benefit of Business", CEO fact sheet, May 2000 <http://www.xs4all.nl/~ceo/gatswatch/factsheet01.html> | Back to Text |

8.Lord Brittan, "The WTO: why it matters for business", speech at Herbert Smith seminar 'Using the law to break down trade barriers', 24 October 2000 <http://www.herbertsmith.co.uk/credentials/WTO_sectionB.html> | Back to Text |

9.Lord Brittan of Spennithorne, Liberalising World Trade : Why Business Must Make Its Voice Heard, IFSL World, Edition 1, Spring 2001 <http://www.bi.org.uk/html/2001.html> | Back to Text |

10.Ibid. | Back to Text |

< Previous Article Table of Contents Next Article >

Paulus Potterstraat 20 1071 DA Amsterdam Netherlands tel/fax: +31-20-6127023 e-mail: <ceo@xs4all.nl>