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Report exposes role of corporate lobbyists in setting EU trade agenda
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EU trade policy is being driven by the demands of European businesses for new markets rather than by the needs of developing countries, European citizens or the environment according to a report released as European trade ministers meet in Brussels.

21 November 2005 - War on Want

Link to the full report: The EU Corporate Trade Agenda

Brussels is now home to over 15,000 lobbyists (more than one for every European Commission official) but just 10 per cent of these represent environmental and social groups. A report published today by Seattle to Brussels, a pan-European network of organisations campaigning on trade issues including UK organisations the World Development Movement and War on Want, details the extraordinary access of corporate lobby groups and business bodies to the European Commission. It shows how the trade policy that emerges from this hidden and unregulated relationship overwhelmingly reflects the demands of European multinational companies in current negotiations on agriculture, trade in services and non-agricultural market access.

John Hilary, Head of Campaigns and Policy at War on Want said today: "Europe's primary objective in trade negotiations in Hong Kong is to secure access for European companies to developed and developing country markets. The European Commission's demands that developing countries slash their industrial tariffs, and open up their service sectors and agricultural markets do not reflect the wishes of the European public. They are being fiercely resisted by many developing countries at the WTO yet somehow Peter Mandelson continues to claim he is pursuing a development agenda at the WTO."

The report "The EU Corporate Trade Agenda " sets out in detail the variety of heavily resourced corporate lobby groups currently found swarming around the European Commission in Brussels. From employers groups such as the Confederation of British Industry and UNICE to corporate lawyers White&Case and Herbert Smith, public affairs consultancies Gplus Europe and Burson-Marsteller, and business lobby groups such as the European Services Forum and the European Roundtable of Industrialists. The study exposes the close contacts and revolving doors between business and senior EU officials (including numerous ex Commissioners) and the privileged access to the European Commission's Directorate General Trade, which negotiates on behalf of the European member states.

WDM campaigner Dave Timms said: "A massive industry of corporate lobbying has grown up in Brussels with overwhelming influence on European trade policy. Yet the relationship between the European Commission and the corporate lobby is almost entirely unregulated, unaccountable and conducted behind closed doors.

"Until we expose this relationship and curb its excessive influence Europe will continue to pursue a corporate trade agenda at the expense of environmental and development concerns. It is Europe's demand for sweeping cuts in industrial tariffs and opening up trade in services in return for promised agricultural reforms that are currently pushing trade talks to the edge of collapse."