Category Archives: Lobby companies

Chemical industry lobbyists claim that they don’t lobby..

The European Chemical industry is represented by a lobbying organisation called CEFIC in Brussels. CEFIC employs more than 170 staff and claims a yearly budget of 37.9 million Euros. It’s a big operation, with a large office just a few minutes walk from DG Environment, the European Commission’s environment department.

CEFIC basically exists to lobby European institutions – yet, strangely it has declared on the new voluntary register of EU lobbyists that “its costs directly related to representing interests to EU institutions, in 2007, were less than 50,000 Euros

Friends of the Earth Europe spotted this, and complained to the European Commission – and the Commission has now suspended CEFIC from the register for 8 weeks, due to their concerns about the registration:

“Following the submission of a complaint regarding an alleged violation of the code of conduct related to the information provided by CEFIC in the register of interest representatives, the Secretariat general has received some information from CEFIC which have led it to consider that the declaration of CEFIC may indeed raise problems as regards its estimation of expenditures which appears to be underestimated, therefore breaching rule N° 4 of the code of conduct.”

See the Friends of the Earth Europe press release for details.

I’ve had a lot of personal experience of CEFIC lobbying during my time working for Friends of the Earth and then WWF on the formulation of REACH, the EU’s new chemicals law. CEFIC do a lot of lobbying – and spend a lot of money on it….

Lobby companies view new parliament as more pro-business – with caveats

The free EU news site Euractiv has a story in which they’ve interviewed people from Public Affairs companies in Brussels about the new Parliament. If you work in Brussels you soon realise that there are a lot of these companies about!

Corporate Europe Observatory – a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) that focusses on exposing corporate lobbying – do an excellent tour around the offices of some of the big lobby companies in the streets around the European Institutions in Brussels.

The Euractiv story shows that the lobbyists generally think the new parliament will be more pro-business, but some believe that the increased awareness of climate change may make the Parliament greener than expected.

They view the Eurosceptic group in parliament – ‘Europe of Freedom and Democracy’ – as not very important in legislative terms, given that it is still small (only 30 MEPs).

The UK Conservative party – who have left the main centre-right group – are also viewed as weak. They have reduced their influence by creating a small new group, European Conservatives and Reformers (ECR), rather than staying in the biggest group in the Parliament.

They also comment on the importance of the new MEPs:

There have never been as great a number of new MEPs as after this year’s election,” CEO of Hill and Knowlton‘s Brussels office Elaine Cruikshanks told EurActiv in an interview. “

Naturally, this means a lot of work for consultants (some 40% of MEPs are new). It is part of our day-to-day job to closely observe these MEPs and assess their interests and attitudes, so as to make validated recommendations to our clients as to which ones are relevant to their issues,” Cruikshanks said.

Hill & Knowlton has a colourful history (see this Sourcewatch article), as one of the oldest public relations firms in the US, including lobbying for the tobacco industry for many years. The most remarkable example of their work, in my view, is their reported involvement in creating the fake news story that Iraqi soldiers had taken babies out of incubators after invading Kuwait – see the Sourcewatch article on the case for more shocking details.