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

Call for curbs on MEPs' going through the revolving door

Brussels, 6 June 2011 – A revolving door between the European Parliament and industry lobbyists could undermine the ability of MEPs to act in the public interest, according to a new report from Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) published today (Monday) [1].
The research and campaign group is urging the European Parliament's President Jerzy Buzek to address the issue when he convenes his working group this week [2].
A significant number of former MEPs have gone into industry lobbying jobs, using their knowledge of the system and their extensive contacts, to promote industry interests in the Parliament.
For example, former UK Conservative John Purvis, now chairs the Financial Future Forum for Brussels lobbyists Cabinet DN; former Irish MEP John Cushnahan (Fine Fail), now lobbies MEPs on behalf of British American Tobacco; and the Austrian MEP Hubert Pirker (EPP) set up EU Triconsult following his previous time as an MEP. Pirker, who returned to the Parliament following the resignation of Ernst Strasser, has now dissolved the company.

Campaigners say that the revolving door between the Parliament and lobby consultancies creates serious conflicts of interest. When MEPs move straight into lobbying jobs, there is also the risk that such contracts are a reward for favours done while the MEP was still in office.

Other MEPs retain close ties with industry while still in office, including via former assistants who have moved into lobbying positions. For example, the French MEP Françoise Grossetête (EPP) has strong links with the pharmaceutical industry, and has openly defended its interests. Her former assistant is now employed as the Senior Manager European Affairs at Sanofi Aventis.

CEO's transparency campaigner Vicky Cann said:

"Far too many MEPs are going through the revolving door into industry lobby jobs, which can lead to unacceptable conflicts of interest. The Buzek working group must address this issue and act to prevent the influence of industry undermining public duty."

CEO – together with the ALTER-EU coalition - is calling for MEPs:

• to be barred from negotiating lobby roles while still in office

• to face an 18-month cooling off period before taking up a lobbying role

• former MEPs employed as lobbyists should also be required to surrender their access passes to the Parliament.

The organisation also wants to see action to block MEPs from taking second jobs which involved acting in personal or others interests, including through lobbying European institutions and agencies.

MEPs should be forced to declare all additional earnings, and a cap should be introduced, limiting extra earnings to a proportion of their MEP's salary.

Vicky Cann, email:, tel: +32 (0)2 893 0930, Mobile: +32 (0)489 596 478 /
Olivier Hoedeman, email:, tel: +32 (0)2 893 0930, Mobile: +32 (0)474 486 545)

[1] Caught in the Parliament's revolving door, Nikolaj Nielsen for Corporate Europe Observatory, June 2011
[2] The ad hoc working group led by Parliamentary President Jerzy Buzek was set up to examine the code of conduct for MEPs as well as improving transparency around relations between MEPs and lobbyists, after four MEPs were caught in a newspaper sting operation appearing to be prepared to accept cash in return for tabling amendments. The group is set to meet on Wednesday 8 June 2011.

Time: 09.30 - 16.00 - Date: 30/10/15
Ombudsman upholds CEO complaint against the Commission over failure on UN tobacco lobby rules.
A new briefing in French and English by CEO shows how Solutions COP21 in Paris, which is supposed to showcase climate solutions during COP21, is in fact just a corporate greenwashing vehicle that also enables big business to buy access to decision makers. Aimed at activists, the 4-page briefing is a what's what on (false) Solutions COP21.
Civil society groups denounce the Commission's plan for a Capital Markets Union. No lesson has been learnt from the financial crisis, they say.

Capturing COP21 - Cororate influence and the UN climate summit in Paris

The corporate lobby tour

Stop the Crop

Alternative Trade Mandate