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Corporate Europe Observer - Issue 8
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his Spring issue of the Corporate Europe Observer starts with a successful example of creative internet-activism. EuropaBio, the giant biotech industry coalition, recently tried to shut down www.insanex.dk, a website introducing "Insanex Genomics", a spoof 'life sciences' company. Despite the threat of legal action by EuropaBio, the group of Danish anti-biotech activists that run the Insanex site are determined to continue their use of internet satire against the European biotech industry. We also report on the annual gathering of global political and corporate power brokers at the World Economic Forum in Davos, which took place in late January. While usually a smooth running PR machine which streams of neoliberal sound bites are reproduced by media around the world, this year's 'Davos' turned out a bit different. Successful counter-summits challenging neoliberal globalisation took place parallel to the WEF, both in the Brazilian city Porto Alegre and in Davos itself. This, combined with the excessive repression by the Swiss police against (potential) demonstrators, tarnished the image of the WEF.

In this issue, you will also find an analysis of the future of the Kyoto Protocol after the failed UN climate Summit (COP-6), last November in The Hague. After intense pressure from a coalition of Northern governments and corporate lobby groups, COP-6 was very close to allowing a set of rules that would have dramatically undermined the effectiveness and fairness of the climate treaty. We also present an analysis of the consequences that the EU's new treaty will have for decision-making on international trade and investment policies. The European Commission (EC) and industry, which had campaigned for sweeping centralisation of the EU's decision making on WTO policies, booked a significant victory, but fortunately only got part of what they had hoped for. The treaty, which was completed at the EU's summit in Nice in December, further deepens the democratic gap, while empowering the EC and its neoliberal trade agenda.

In our series on the revolving doors between the European Commission (EC) and industry, we report about former Trade Commissioner Brittan, who during his time in Brussels was a particularly close friend of corporate lobby groups. Less than 1 1/2 years after leaving the Commission, Brittan is now employed by the UK financial services industry to lobby the EC on its WTO policies. Finally, we review the report "Big Business and the European Agenda", written by Keith Richardson, former secretary- general of the European Roundtable of Industrialists. In his expose of ten years as ERT-manager, Richardson provides some interesting insights into the workings of this influential lobby group, but also makes an unconvincing attempt to defend the record of what he claims is really a club of "enlightened" businessmen.


Biotech Lobby Giant Tries to Silence Activist Critics With Court Case Threat

Revolving Doors: Brittan Lobbies European Commission for UK Financial Services Industry

World Economic Forum: "Bridging the Divide" or Dividing the Cake?

Corporate Campaign to Corrupt the Kyoto Protocol Continues After Collapsed COP-6 Climate Summit

Nice Treaty: Commission Equipped for New WTO Disasters

In Defence of the Roundtable - Former ERT Boss Evaluates Ten Years in EU Corporate Politics

CEO News

This issue of the Corporate Europe Observer is brought to you by Belén Balanyá, Ann Doherty, Olivier Hoedeman, Adam Ma'anit, and Erik Wesselius. Kenneth Haar from SOS WTO (Denmark) contributed the article on the Nice Treaty and international trade and investment policies.

We are also grateful to Karen Grant for editing and layout. Corporate Europe Observatory (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.

 Paulus Potterstraat 20 1071 DA Amsterdam  Netherlands  tel/fax: +31-20-612-7023  e-mail: <ceo@xs4all.nl>