[ddj] Court ruling fails to stop business lobbies' privileged access in EU-India trade talks
olivier at corporateeurope.org
Fri Jun 7 11:24:45 UTC 2013
as you may have heard, Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) launched a
court case against the European Commission in 2011, challenging the
Commission's practice of withholding information related to the EU's
free trade talks with India, discriminating in favour of corporate lobby
groups and violating the EU's transparency rules.
Today, the EU's General Court in Luxembourg delivered its ruling,
unfortunately supporting the Commission. Our press release with a first
assessment of the ruling is below.
Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO)
*Court ruling fails to stop business lobbies' privileged access in
EU-India trade talks*
Brussels, 7 June ? In a ruling
today following a lawsuit by lobby watchdog Corporate Europe
Observatory, the EU?s General Court in Luxembourg concludes that the
European Commission did not violate EU rules when withholding
information about the EU-India free trade talks from the public, even
though it had already shared the information with corporate lobby
groups. Corporate Europe Observatory warns that this decision risks
deepening the secrecy around EU trade negotiations and legitimises the
Commission?s practice of granting corporate lobby groups privileged
access to its policy-making, at the expense of the wider public interest.
which was filed in February 2011, was a last resort for Corporate Europe
Observatory after the Commission refused to fully release documents
related to the EU?s ongoing trade negotiations with India, including
meeting reports, emails and a letter, which it had sent to industry
groups including the European employers? federation BusinessEurope, one
of the most powerful corporate lobby groups in Brussels. The Commission
claimed that the censored information was 'sensitive' as it concerned EU
priorities and strategies in the negotiations and argued that public
disclosure would undermine the EU?s international relations.
Corporate Europe Observatory argued that the information, which the
Commission had already shared with the business world at large, could
not suddenly become confidential when a public interest group asked for
it. The group accused the Commission of manifest discrimination in
favour of corporate lobby groups and violating the EU?s access to
In a first reaction to the ruling, Corporate Europe Observatory trade
campaigner Pia Eberhardt said:
?There is a big risk that the Commission will see the court ruling as a
green light to continue to develop its trade policy behind closed doors,
together with, and for, a tiny elite of corporate lobby groups. The
result is a trade policy that caters for big business needs, but works
against the interests of the bulk of the population in the EU and other
parts of the world.?
The judgement comes as the EU and India are reportedly sorting out their
last differences, in order to ink their final proposal for a free trade
deal before elections in the EU and in India in 2014. On both sides,
trade unions, farmers? groups, patients' organisations and other civil
society groups have repeatedly raised concerns about the potentially
devastating impacts of the agreement, particularly on access to
medicines and the livelihoods of Indian farmers and street traders.
CEO believes that the court ruling has potentially serious implications
for other trade policies, such as the upcoming free trade negotiations
between the EU and the US.
?Citizens and Parliamentarians are increasingly worried about the risks
that the EU?s corporate trade agenda poses to food safety, digital
rights and environmental protection. Trade negotiations should be
conducted in an open and democratically-accountable way, and it is high
time that the Commission stops handing over the negotiating agenda to
multinational companies. It is disappointing that the court ruling seems
to point in exactly the opposite direction?, stated Pia Eberhardt.
Corporate Europe Observatory will now carefully analyse the ruling and
consider next steps. A potential appeal would need to be filed within
two months and ten days.
* * * * * * * * * * *
P i a E b e r h a r d t
Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO)
Tel.: ++49 (0)221 789 678 10
Mobile: ++49 (0) 152 56 30 91 02
pia at corporateeurope.org <mailto:pia at corporateeurope.org>
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