Corporate Europe Observatory

Exposing the power of corporate lobbying in the EU

EU in crisis: analysis, resistance and alternatives to Corporate Europe

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Saturday 5 - Sunday 6 May 2012: Maison des Associations Internationales, Brussels

Join us in a two-day conference in Brussels with movements from across Europe to strengthen progressive responses to the EU's crisis.

Speakers will include Susan George - Carola Fischbach-Pyttel - Leigh Phillips - Esther Vivas - Mariana Mortágua - Alexis Passadakis - Miren Etxezarreta - Lina Filopoulou - Jakub Patočka - Andy Storey - Jorge Fael

Organised by Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), in cooperation with the Transnational Institute (TNI) and with the support of the European Federation of Public Services Unions (EPSU)

Read this invitation in: Français, Nederlands, Dansk, Deutsch, Ελληνικά, Italiano, Portuguese, Español.

Register now! | Conference essay series

The EU’s response to the financial crisis and the escalating eurocrisis has exposed more clearly than ever the disastrous dominance of neoliberal ideology. Obsessed with budgetary discipline, EU decision-makers are imposing sweeping austerity measures, privatising public services and cutting welfare. Corporate lobby groups see their longstanding demands implemented overnight while the living standards of millions are undermined and economies grind to a halt.

The EU’s emphasis on free markets and deregulation in the last two decades was a crucial factor in causing the current crisis. This included:

  • Deregulation of the financial markets, allowing a credit-fuelled bubble that collapsed in 2008, and which boosted the powers of speculators

  • The single currency which exacerbated the differences between stronger and weaker economies

  • The drive for liberalisation and ‘competitiveness’ which left almost every sector of society exposed to market forces, at the expense of social rights, environmental regulation and public services.

These flawed policies were heavily influenced by corporate lobbying, reflecting how big business had captured the policy-making processes in Brussels and in member states.

Since 2008, billions of taxpayers' euros have been spent on saving banks that had recklessly gambled on speculative markets, transferring private debt to public debt. Following the crisis, the power of the financial lobbies - and their easy access to decision-makers - has ensured that only limited regulation has been introduced.

EU decision-makers pre-occupied with appeasing the financial markets are now implementing new ‘economic governance’ rules and a new EU treaty to support their “shock doctrine”. These measures challenge the core of democracy in Europe, putting crucial decisions in the hands of technocrats. This is the Europe of big banks and corporations which sidelines any attempt at a ‘Social Europe’.

There are encouraging signs of resistance. The indignados and occupy movements, union strikes and demonstrations, mark a growing rejection of the EU's free-market fundamentalism. These are indicators of a different Europe emerging: a Europe that insists on democracy and refuses to be run by big business and technocrats.

Since 1997, Corporate Europe Observatory has been working to expose and counter the influence of corporations that is distorting democracy and undermining social and environmental protection. The urgency of discussing workable alternatives, strategy and common actions at the European level has never been more evident. Join us to celebrate our 15th anniversary in a two-day conference in Brussels with movements from across Europe to strengthen progressive responses to the EU's crisis. The conference will be in English with translations into French and Spanish provided.

 

Register now or email for more information: conference2012@corporateeurope.org

 
How industry, law firms and the European Commission worked together on EU “trade secrets” legislation.
The first corporate sponsors of this winter's 'historic' UN climate talks (COP21) have been unofficially unveiled: luxury brand Luis Vuitton (LVMH) and Suez Environment, a key member of the French pro-fracking lobby. According to an article by ATTAC's Maxime Combes, others were initially announced in the press (BMW, Vattenfall and New Holland Agriculture) but later denied by the COP21 organisers.
"There is de facto a systemic collusion between the Commission and business circles"
The way in which the Commission has appointed the head of its “in-house think-tank” has demonstrated its woefully inadequate conflict of interest assessment for new appointments, says Corporate Europe Observatory. The conflict of interest assessment applied to the former chief of the Lisbon Council, Ann Mettler as head of the new European Political Strategy Center (EPSC) does not appear to have explored her close cooperation with some of the biggest corporate players in the digital and technology market. In CEO's view, this casts serious doubts on the independence of the advice that is to be given to President Juncker and his college of commissioners.

Alternative Trade Mandate

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