Corporate Europe Observatory

Exposing the power of corporate lobbying in the EU

  • Dansk
  • NL
  • EN
  • FI
  • FR
  • DE
  • EL
  • IT
  • NO
  • PL
  • PT
  • RO
  • SL
  • ES
  • SV

EU complicit in corporate crimes

The European Union and European governments were found to be complicit in the crimes of transnational corporations, including damage to the environment and human rights violations, at a special tribunal which took place in Madrid in May. Several hundred people filled the conference room in the Círculo de Bellas Artes in the centre of Madrid to hear the Permanent Peoples Tribunal ruling on Monday 17 May 2010. Complaints had been submitted against 27 EU-based corporations whose activities in Latin America have caused serious environmental damage and human rights violations. Among the 27 companies on trial in Madrid were Swedish-Finnish Stora Enso for the social and environmental impacts of its giant tree monoculture plantations in Uruguay and Brazil, Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica for labour rights violations, as well as fishing multinational Pescanova. The Permanent Peoples Tribunal, with roots in the Bertrand Russell War Crimes Tribunal, investigates cases where victims currently lack legal protection and access to justice. In the cases before the Madrid Tribunal, the victims lacked access to justice, both in the Latin American countries where the crimes occurred, and in Europe where the TNCs have their headquarters. "Instead of the current impunity we want to insist on the social and environmental responsibility of these companies", said Marcos Arruda, a Brazilian economist and Tribunal member. Compared to previous sessions in Vienna and Lima, the ambition of the session in Madrid was not only to assess the behaviour of transnational corporations in Latin America, but also the complicity of the EU in creating the conditions for these violations to take place and go unchallenged. The Tribunal was very clear in its verdict, accusing the EU of both direct and indirect complicity. Colombian jury member and human rights lawyer Dr. Alirio Uribe condemned "as immoral the behaviour of EU corporations in Latin America and their serious violations of international conventions protecting the social, economic and cultural rights." The tribunal also condemned the EU governments for allowing this to happen. "Despite all this indefensible behaviour by EU corporations, we see no will from EU to act and prevent such behavior,", Uribe concluded. The European Commission and governments, indeed, have so far rejected any form of enforceable corporate accountability rules. The jury also criticised the EU for narrowly defending "the interests of these corporations through trade and investment treaties and the promotion of privatisation without any concern for development". Uribe called this "a complicity with serious consequences". One example highlighted by the jury was the case brought against Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline and other large pharmaceutical companies lobbying heavily to outlaw generic drugs, despite the crucial importance of these affordable drugs for the health of the poorest in developing countries like Brazil. Public health NGOs from across Latin America had accused the EU and pharma lobby groups of "provoking a deliberate confusion" between legitimate generic medicines and counterfeits. Earlier this month shipments of generic drugs in transit on the way from India to Brazil were confiscated in European ports, a practice the Tribunal strongly condemned. The Tribunal called on the UN "to create a framework to prevent this behaviour", and demanded that the statues of the International Criminal Court be changed to include the responsibility of these companies, so they can be charged for environmental and human right crimes. The Tribunal insisted that the EU must respect the rights of the victims of corporate abuses and develop rules to grant access to justice for victims that have suffered as a result of the behaviour of EU-based companies outside of Europe. The tribunal also called on the EU to establish a centre on TNCs to monitor the behaviour of the companies on the ground. The 31-page ruling will be sent to the 27 companies as well as to the EU institutions and the UN.
The European Union and European governments were found to be complicit in the crimes of transnational corporations, including damage to the environment and human rights violations, at a special tribunal which took place in Madrid in May. Several hundred people filled the conference room in the Círculo de Bellas Artes in the centre of Madrid to hear the Permanent Peoples Tribunal ruling on Monday 17 May 2010. Complaints had been submitted against 27 EU-based corporations whose activities in Latin America have caused serious environmental damage and human rights violations. Among the 27 companies on trial in Madrid were Swedish-Finnish Stora Enso for the social and environmental impacts of its giant tree monoculture plantations in Uruguay and Brazil, Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica for labour rights violations, as well as fishing multinational Pescanova. The Permanent Peoples Tribunal, with roots in the Bertrand Russell War Crimes Tribunal, investigates cases where victims currently lack legal protection and access to justice. In the cases before the Madrid Tribunal, the victims lacked access to justice, both in the Latin American countries where the crimes occurred, and in Europe where the TNCs have their headquarters. "Instead of the current impunity we want to insist on the social and environmental responsibility of these companies", said Marcos Arruda, a Brazilian economist and Tribunal member. Compared to previous sessions in Vienna and Lima, the ambition of the session in Madrid was not only to assess the behaviour of transnational corporations in Latin America, but also the complicity of the EU in creating the conditions for these violations to take place and go unchallenged. The Tribunal was very clear in its verdict, accusing the EU of both direct and indirect complicity. Colombian jury member and human rights lawyer Dr. Alirio Uribe condemned "as immoral the behaviour of EU corporations in Latin America and their serious violations of international conventions protecting the social, economic and cultural rights." The tribunal also condemned the EU governments for allowing this to happen. "Despite all this indefensible behaviour by EU corporations, we see no will from EU to act and prevent such behavior,", Uribe concluded. The European Commission and governments, indeed, have so far rejected any form of enforceable corporate accountability rules. The jury also criticised the EU for narrowly defending "the interests of these corporations through trade and investment treaties and the promotion of privatisation without any concern for development". Uribe called this "a complicity with serious consequences". One example highlighted by the jury was the case brought against Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline and other large pharmaceutical companies lobbying heavily to outlaw generic drugs, despite the crucial importance of these affordable drugs for the health of the poorest in developing countries like Brazil. Public health NGOs from across Latin America had accused the EU and pharma lobby groups of "provoking a deliberate confusion" between legitimate generic medicines and counterfeits. Earlier this month shipments of generic drugs in transit on the way from India to Brazil were confiscated in European ports, a practice the Tribunal strongly condemned. The Tribunal called on the UN "to create a framework to prevent this behaviour", and demanded that the statues of the International Criminal Court be changed to include the responsibility of these companies, so they can be charged for environmental and human right crimes. The Tribunal insisted that the EU must respect the rights of the victims of corporate abuses and develop rules to grant access to justice for victims that have suffered as a result of the behaviour of EU-based companies outside of Europe. The tribunal also called on the EU to establish a centre on TNCs to monitor the behaviour of the companies on the ground. The 31-page ruling will be sent to the 27 companies as well as to the EU institutions and the UN.
 
Story

A telling mistake

Ms Barbara Gallani, who will become EFSA's Director for Communications from 1 May, was up until late March 2016 working for the largest lobby group for the food and drink industry in the UK, the Food and Drink Federation (FDF).

Corporate Europe Observatory is looking for an experienced campaigner to join our team and strengthen our work on exposing and challenging corporate lobbying capture of EU decision-making. Please respond before Wednesday May 18th 2016. The position is based in Brussels, in our office in the Mundo-B building in Brussels. Starting date July 1st 2016 (a later start date can be discussed).

You would be part of the 'lobbyocracy' team within CEO, covering issues including the corporate capture of advisory groups, lobbying secrecy, etc.

Splits occur within European Commission, as European Parliament, Ombudsman and NGOs increase the pressure for implementing UN rules for contacts with tobacco industry lobbyists.

The European Commission has shelved a legal opinion confirming that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) produced through gene-editing and other new techniques fall under EU GMO law, following pressure from the US government. A series of internal Commission documents obtained under freedom of information rules reveal intense lobbying by US representatives for the EU to disregard its GMO rules, which require safety testing and labelling.

The corporate lobby tour

Stop the Crop

Alternative Trade Mandate