The Commission drops Google’s ally
The European Commission will cancel a contract with a consultancy firm on merger policy relevant research. They should never have let a close friend of Google do it in the first place - stronger rules are needed, CEO finds.
This week European Commissioner Vestager made her intention to cancel a contract with a consultancy form public. RBB Economics was awarded a job in 2021 to do a study on the EU’s merger policy, a decision that would since be criticised by NGO ‘s.
In April this year, a complaint was filed by Corporate Europe Observatory and LobbyControl (D) to the European Ombudsman in an attempt to gain support for the termination of the cooperation between the Commission and the company. In the complaint, the two organisations highlighted the link between RBB Economics and companies that have seeked approval for mergers in the past, as well as a close relationship to Google, a company that has come under increasing pressure in recent years for its monopolistic behavior.
It is in view of the Ombudsman’s decision to open an inquiry that the Commission has now decided to pull the brake on the contract with RBB Economics
Kenneth Haar, researcher and campaigner at Corporate Europe Observatory said:
It is not the first time that CEO criticizes the Commission for outsourcing politically sensitive consultancy work. In 2020, for instance, CEO and the Change Finance coalition made a similar complaint when the Commission hired BlackRock, the biggest asset manager in the world with major investments in fossil fuel companies, to advise on policies on sustainable investments.
Currently, the European Parliament and the Council are discussing new rules on public procurement that could potentially prevent a repetition. However, there is still a risk of failure.
“As we hear the Commission, they prefer a text that provide them with plenty of loopholes. Hopefully, parliamentarians will work to make the new rules so sharp, that there can be no more cases such as the RBB case,” Kenneth Haar said.
For further information:
Kenneth Haar, tlph. +45 – 23 60 06 31, firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to the editor:
1. A full analysis of the RBB case is available on CEO’s website: How the Commission outsourced its merger policy to Google’s best friend.
2. The BlackRock case is described in detail in “The BlackRock model”.
3. The Council agreed on its mandate for the negotiations on reforms of the Financial Regulation, which include proposals to strengthen the rules on conflicts of interest.