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9/4/16

Corruption in the European Union: Scandals in Banking, Fraud and Secretive TTIP Negotiations - by Graham Vanbergen

In Brussels alone there are now over 30,000 corporate lobbyists, shadowy agitators as The Guardian puts it, which are responsible for influencing three quarters of legislation in the EU. But even they are left in the shade when it comes to the power being afforded to corporations in the TTIP negotiations.

The US Chamber of Commerce the wealthiest of all US corporate lobbies and DigitalEurope, whose members include all the big IT names like Apple, Blackberry, IBM, and Microsoft are there. So are the Transatlantic Business Council, a corporate lobby group representing over 70 EU and US-based multinationals. ACEA, the car lobby working for BMW, Ford, Renault and others, the Chemical Industry Council lobbying for BASF, Bayer, Dow, and the like, are all there.

The European Services Forum, a lobby outfit banding together large services companies are present as are powerful big Pharma companies and FoodDrinkEurope, the biggest food industry lobby group representing multinationals like Nestlé, Coca Cola, and Unilever are sitting at the negotiating table.

One in every 5 corporate lobby groups, which have lobbied for trade on TTIP (80 out of 372 corporate actors), is not registered in the EU’s Transparency Register. Of 597 closed meetings the EU Commissioners conducted over TTIP, 88% were with big corporations. Just 9% were with public interest groups.

Many, if not most of these corporations are not strangers to scandals of corruption in one sort or another. TTIP if successful, would perhaps be the apex of their achievement.

Transparency International explains the connection between lobbying and corruption thus:

    Any activity carried out to influence a government or institution’s policies and decisions in favour of a specific cause or outcome. Even when allowed by law, these acts can become distortive if disproportionate levels of influence exist — by companies, associations, organisations and individuals.

 It should be clear to anyone that when transparency of policy making, basic safeguards and accountability are limited, this can lead to illegal, undue and unfair influence in a country’s policies and politics. TTIP is the embodiment of a corrupt system where corporations decide what are best, not democratic principles.

In the meantime, Cecelia Malmstrom has faced huge public opposition over TTIP. Millions have signed petitions. Mass protests groups have rallied in many cities across Europe and America, some have turned ugly with protestors facing riot police in Brussels and elsewhere. In response the EU Commission conducted the largest ever survey since its 1951 birth and reluctantly published the results in January 2015 where 97% of 150,000 respondents from 28 nations voiced their unequivocal opposition to the deal. At the same time, the Commission also received individual replies from more than 450 organisations who represented a wider spectrum of EU civil society, including trade unions, NGOs, business organisations, consumer groups, charities, legal firms and academics, all of whom expressed either deep concern or outright opposition – to no avail. (5)

Questioned by a reporter from The Independent on why she continued her persistent promotion of the deal against such massive public opposition, Malmström’s chilling response was: “I do not take my mandate from the European people.” EU commissioners are supposed to follow the elected governments of Europe and so this deal proves it is nothing more than a corporate coups d’état that clearly breaches any definition, no matter how low the bar, of corruption. (6)

This stark reality is highlighted by a report from War on Want who revealed that The European Commissioner for Trade receives orders directly from the corporate lobbyists that swarm around Brussels.

    Given that the European Commission takes its steer from industry lobbies it’s hardly surprising that 70 per cent of Europe’s population think corruption is now centered on politics and corporations.

Read moreCorruption in the European Union: Scandals in Banking, Fraud and Secretive TTIP Negotiations | Global Research - Centre for Research on Globalization

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