Big Toxics 7

Big Toxics industry is now Brussels’ top lobby spender

A new study of the top 50 highest-spenders on EU lobbying based on LobbyFacts data shows that Big Toxics - major chemical industry players - now out-spend Big Tech in their EU lobby firepower.

And with several European Commission proposals on chemicals and pesticides postponed or kicked into the long grass, Conservative MEPs demanding a regulatory moratorium, and EU leaders such as President Macron and Prime Minister De Croo recently demanding a ‘green regulatory break’, it seems clear that the Big Toxics lobby agenda is being heard at the very top levels of EU decision-making.

Some of the main findings (according to most recent self-declared lobby figures) include that:

  • There are 7 Big Toxic lobbies in the top 50 highest-spenders on EU lobbying: 4 companies (Bayer, ExxonMobil Petroleum & Chemical, Dow Europe, and BASF) and 3 trade associations (CEFIC, the German chemicals industry lobby Verband der Chemischen Industrie, and Plastics Europe). Between them they declare spending €33.5 million in the most recent year on lobbying the EU institutions, more than either Big Tech or Big Energy players in the top 50.
  • These 7 Big Toxics have declared lobby spending of around €293 million in total over the past 10 years. They have also enjoyed 495 European Parliament access passes and 249 meetings (since December 2014) with the highest levels of the European Commission.
  • Of the 50 highest-spending lobbyists in today’s register, 21 are actively promoting a corporate-friendly agenda on chemicals policy, including the 7 Big Toxics listed above, 12 lobby consultancies, and 2 wider industry lobby groups.

Vicky Cann, researcher and campaigner at Corporate Europe Observatory said:

“We are facing climate and toxic pollution crises which need urgent tackling; now is not the time for a ‘green regulatory break’.

"Lobbying by Big Toxics has already delayed the much-needed reform of the REACH regulation on chemicals and derailed vital proposals on pesticides reduction and to prevent exports of banned chemicals.

"And we can see that lobby sharks are circling around the proposal to restrict thousands of ‘forever chemicals’ (PFAS).

“The chemicals sector has deep pockets and can and must be held to account for the toxics legacy in our bodies, soils, air, and waters. We need a lobby firewall to protect the regulatory process from Big Toxics’ influence and agenda.”


For more information or interview requests please contact: Vicky Cann, Corporate Europe Observatory researcher, +44 (0) 7960 988 096,

Notes to the editor:

  • Read more on our methodology here:
  • Lobbying by the chemicals industry has already affected the EU’s attempts to regulate toxic chemicals including by the postponement of the revision of the REACH regulation on chemicals; the start of a pushback on the proposed ban of ‘forever chemicals’ PFAS; and the derailing of plans to cut pesticide use by 50 per cent by 2030 and to stop the export of banned chemicals.
  • For ‘forever chemicals’ PFAS alone, the total health-related costs for exposure across Europe has been estimated at €52-84 billion per year, with impacts likely to include liver damage, decreased fertility, and cancer. A “plausible” figure for European environmental clean-up costs is €10-20 billion.
  • LobbyFacts is a project of Corporate Europe Observatory and LobbyControl and it provides handy tools to search, sort, compare, and analyse official EU lobby transparency register data – from today and dating back to 2012 – to help journalists and researchers track lobbyists and their influence at the EU level.

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