Dear new Commissioners

How will you ensure lobby transparency and overcome the shortcomings of the current lobby register? What safeguards will you introduce against privileged access and unbalanced composition of Expert Groups? How will you ensure access to justice in the EU for communities and people everywhere who have been adversely affected by EU companies? How will you ensure that EU Trade Policy will not undermine workers rights, the environment and social conditions in Europe and the Global South? How will you ensure that financial regulation and supervision reforms will be in the interest of people and the planet in Europe and globally?

We and the MEPs who pledged are looking forward to your answers. Look up our pledges – they highlight our demands for the new commissioners:

Lobbying transparency and ethics
  • Problem
  • Solution
  • Pledge
  • ALTER-EU

More than 15.000 professional lobbyists currently roam the corridors of the EU institutions, a large majority representing business interests. Without effective rules on transparency and ethics for lobbying, the influence of corporate lobbyists on EU policy-making has largely remained out of public sight. All too often, corporate lobbyists are being granted privileged access to EU decision-makers, frequently resulting in postponing, weakening or blocking urgently needed progress on social, environmental and consumer protection regulation.

Close ties between public institutions and the corporate sector are established when policy-makers change jobs from public service to the lobbying sector, or when they have vested financial interest conflicting with their obligation to act in the public interest. The corporate grip on EU decision-making raises serious concerns over its impartiality and democratic principle.

For European democracy to function properly, citizens need to be able to know who is influencing EU decision making and how much money is involved. In order to enable public scrutiny, we need a lobby register to which all lobbyists have to sign up and that gives clear information on the interests represented and how much money is involved.

Specific problematic issues, such as decision-makers becoming lobbyists (‘revolving doors’) and privileged access granted to corporate lobbyists need to be urgently addressed. All different interests must be equitably consulted when policies are made.

I pledge to provide leadership in lobbying transparency and ethics

The European public is concerned about the influence of lobbyists over EU decision-making. Measures to secure transparency around EU lobbying and to prevent corporate capture of decision-making are urgently needed.

For European democracy to function properly, citizens need to know who is influencing EU decision making and how much money is involved. However, the Commission’s voluntary lobbying register is insufficient: most lobbyists have not registered and the register lacks names of individual lobbyists and meaningful information on ‘issues lobbied on’ and ‘how much money is involved’. Other problematic issues of lobby influence on EU politics, such as privileged access to decision makers, have not been addressed.

I pledge that in my role as Member of the European Parliament I will support:

  • Replacing the current flawed lobbying register with a mandatory EU lobbying register that includes a list of all individual lobbyists, the legislative dossiers lobbied on and detailed information on the money spent on lobbying per client.
  • Ensuring that the Parliament takes all necessary steps to ban conflicts of interest, including barring MEPs from working as lobbyists while in office.
  • Securing full transparency around Expert Groups and other groups advising the European Commission, and strong safeguards against privileged access and unbalanced composition of Expert Groups.

The Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) is a coalition of over 160 civil society groups, trade unions, academics and public affairs firms concerned with the increasing influence exerted by corporate lobbyists on the political agenda in Europe, the resulting loss of democracy in EU decision-making and the postponement, weakening, or blockage even, of urgently needed progress on social, environmental and consumer-protection reforms.

Reforming financial architecture
  • Problem
  • Solution
  • Pledge
  • ATTAC

The financial crisis and the recession have led to a severe social crisis in the EU and the rest of the world. The crisis is not the result of some unfortunate circumstances or misbehaviour of single actors. It has systemic roots, and hence the structure and the mechanisms of the system in general are at stake. Blind faith in the virtues of markets, and inadequate public control, regulation and accountability of finance are at the heart of the financial crisis. Over the past three decades, the “freedom” of financial actors has been extended at the expense of the huge majority of people. This is also the case for the EU.

Democratic, transparent and accountable financial institutions are necessary to deliver the changes required. The first step must be a transparent and accountable process for reforming the European and international financial architecture in the interest of European citizens and the environment.

The European Central Bank, which is currently committed to price stability at the expense of employment, social and environmental justice, should be given a revised mandate under democratic control. Banking regulation should be tightened in order to secure stability and curb both speculation and tax avoidance.

I pledge to provide leadership in reforming financial architecture

I pledge that in my role as Member of the European Parliament I will sign a parliamentary resolution in support of a system-reform of financial architecture and regulation in the interest of European citizens and the environment. Such a reform would have to include among other things:

  • The development of legislation that obliges all corporations, including banks, to report on a country by country basis all their transactions and balance sheet figures, in order to increase transparency, curb tax avoidance and tax evasion and fight corruption.
  • The development of legislation which introduces strong regulation over investment funds (in particular hedge funds and private equity funds) as well as the establishment of a supervisory body (that would for example ban speculation on food commodities and curb tax evasion).
  • The introduction of taxes on financial transactions and corporate profits to equilibrate income distribution and to support the financing of global public goods such as education, health and the ecological conversion of the economy.

Moreover, I will demand the establishment of a European Parliamentary Committee to work out proposals for a revision of the mandate for and democratic control of the European Central Bank (ECB), of the Maastricht treaty and of European banking regulation.

The European Attac network is present in 15 EU member states. Attac groups word toward the regulation and democratic control of financial market. Attac is also active on other issues such as the WTO and free agreements and public services. Attac was founded in 1998 and its first concrete proposal was the taxation of financial transactions in order to help curb stock market speculation. This is what gave A T T A C its name: the Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions to Aid Citizens.

Just EU trade policy
  • Problem
  • Solution
  • Pledge
  • S2B Network

By exclusively seeking to satisfy the corporate interests, the EU trade policy undermines the living conditions of people both in Europe and in the Global South.

Through the so called “Global Europe” strategy, the EC aims to facilitate market access for EU corporates through the conclusion of global, regional and bilateral free trade agreements (including the Doha Round at the WTO level) and the removal of all kinds of social or environmental protections that reduce the competitiveness, and therefore the profits, of the European business.

It jeopardizes the satisfaction of their economic and social rights, increases global inequalities, threatens the environment and fuels global warming.

The core objectives of the EU trade policy must be development, social and gender equality and protection of environment. External trade cannot be the main component of a renewed and development-oriented economic strategy: green principles, low consumption and solidarity should guide the building of a new “relocalised” trade model.

The European Commission must stop the negotiation of free trade agreements and assess first the potential impacts of those regarding the fulfilment of the economic, social and environmental rights of EU and southern people. It also has to support a deep reform of the international trade system, towards democracy and transparency. Lastly, the EC must stop further liberalization of financial services, which has widely triggered the financial and economic crisis we currently face.

I pledge to promote a full-scale rethink of the EU trade policy

The European Union is currently negotiating trade deals with countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America which will bring big profits for European companies at the expense of people and the environment. The EU’s trade policy should prioritise development, gender, social and environmental justice and human rights.

I pledge that in my role as Member of the European Parliament I will:

  • Urge the Trade Commissioner and the President of the European Commission to immediately stop the implementation of the Global Europe strategy, including a moratorium on the conclusion of bilateral and regional free trade agreements.
  • Support a cross-committee investigation and stakeholder consultation process into the impacts of EU trade policies on development, social, environmental, human and women’s rights, in Europe as well as in third countries.
  • Sign a resolution in the European Parliament advising a stop to the WTO’s Doha Round and calling for democratic reform of the international trading system and its rules of the game.
  • Demand an international assessment of the responsibility of trade and financial liberalisation in the global financial and economic meltdown, the global food crisis and the climate crisis.

The Seattle to Brussels Network (S2B) aims at transforming the corporate-driven agenda of the European Union and other European governments, which favours a continued global trade and investment liberalisation, into a truly sustainable, fair, social and gender-oriented development agenda.

The S2B network is the European part of the global 'Our World Is Not For Sale' network (OWINFS). It includes more than 60 organisations: development, environment, human rights, women and farmers organisations, trade unions, social movements as well as research institutes.

Corporate accountability
  • Problem
  • Solution
  • Pledge
  • ECCJ

Companies’ activities have a profound impact on the lives of citizens. Although they can be an important force for development, many companies are also responsible for human rights and environmental abuses around the world. States have a duty under international law to protect their citizens from such abuses but many fail to do so and victims are equally unable to get redress in the European countries where many of these companies are based because of legal and financial obstacles and a lack of information. This is compounded by the fact that under current legislation, head offices of companies can have significant control over their subsidiaries’ actions and can profit from their operations without being held responsible for any violations that they commit.

Voluntary CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) schemes have failed to solve these problems: what is needed is stronger regulation to govern company behaviour. This should include holding company head offices and their directors directly responsible for crimes that they or companies they control commit, and allowing the victims of these crimes to have their cases heard in the EU. Compulsory reporting on social and environmental factors would also help to solve the problem by forcing companies to think about these issues and how their behaviour could affect their reputation and their profits as this information reaches consumers and investors.

I pledge to promote corporate accountability

Multinational Enterprises are important players in the global economy and whilst they have the potential to bring benefits to the areas where they work, some also participate in violations of human rights, community rights and environmental law in many countries. These companies’ head offices can profit from their subsidiaries’ operations and have substantial control over their actions without being held accountable for any irresponsible conduct or crimes they commit. Victims are unable to get redress for the often devastating impacts. Moreover, the market is distorted by exposing responsible entrepreneurs and small businesses to unfair competition.

I pledge that in my role as Member of the European Parliament I will support:

  • The development of a new legal framework for corporate accountability, which will hold companies operating in the EU and their directors legally responsible for the social and environmental consequences of their operations and those of their subsidiaries worldwide.
  • Transparency by implementing mandatory environmental and social reporting with accurate, comparable and comprehensive information.
  • Legal measures that allow victims of violations of human rights and environmental law by companies operating in the EU the possibility to go to a European court, even if the violation took place outside the EU.

The European Coalition for Corporate Justice (ECCJ) brings together national platforms of civil society organizations including NGOs, trade unions, consumers’ organizations and academic institutions promoting corporate accountability from all over Europe. ECCJ represents over 250 organisations present in 16 different countries including FIDH and national chapters of Oxfam, Greenpeace, Amnesty International and Friends of the Earth. For more information and to get involved, please see our website at www.corporatejustice.org.

For MEPs: Submit your pledge here

You are a current Member of the European Parliament and you would like to join the MEPs who pledged?

You can still submit your pledge(s)!

Please send an email to Daniel Pentzlin (FoEE) indicating which of the four pledges you would like to sign.

Thank you!