Friends of the Earth want MEPs to fight lobbying

Friends of the Earth Malta launches campaign to demand Euro candidates pledge to “stand-up for EU citizens against the lobbying influence of big business”

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Matthew Vella
15 April 2014, 10:48am
Environmental NGO Friends of the Earth Malta is launching a major, pan-European campaign to urge candidates in the European elections to “stand-up for citizens and democracy against the excessive lobbying influence of banks and big business”.

“Right now there is a major problem with lobbying in the European institutions,” FOE’s Martin Galea de Giovanni said.

“Too many of the policies and laws which come from Brussels to Malta have the finger prints of big business lobbyists all over them. Instead, we need MEPs who will make laws which support citizens and the public interest.

“It is essential that we tackle the problem of corporate lobbying in Brussels. In the past few years we have seen the processed food industry defeat proposals for health labels on packaging; the big banks avoid effective regulation after the financial crisis; internet firms water-down data privacy laws; and EU trade deals (like the current EU-US deal) consistently put profits before people. It is vital that we have MEPs who will stand-up against this excessive lobbying influence of banks and big business.”

FOE hoped that candidates from many different political parties will join the campaign, sign the pledge and agree to take strong action, if they are elected, to tackle the power of lobbyists in European decision-making.

“Voters could then use this information to help them to decide how to vote in May… We also encourage all Maltese citizens to visit our website and email their Euro candidates to ask them to take the pledge.”

The Politics for People campaign is being co-organised with the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) [1] and already involves organisations from over half of EU member states.

Over 40 MEPs from across the political spectrum have already pledged to stand up for citizens and democracy against “excessive corporate lobbying”, ALTER-EU (Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation) said.

Prominent MEPs include Ska Keller, joint European Commission President candidate for the Greens; Gabi Zimmer, leader of the GUE-NGL bloc; Evelyn Regner from the Socialists Group; Monica Macovei from the European People's Party; and Corinne Lepage from ALDE; with over 40 MEPs signed-up in total.

“Seven out of 10 European citizens are concerned about the excessive influence of industry lobbying on EU decision-making here in Brussels, and rightly so. Too many of our laws have the fingerprints of big business lobbyists all over them – from climate to public health to trade. We need MEPs who will defend the public interest and stand-up for people over profit”, said Olivier Hoedeman from Corporate Europe Observatory, a steering committee member of ALTER-EU.

The centrepiece of the campaign is an interactive website www.politicsforpeople.eu which any EU citizen can use to directly contact their European candidates and invite them to sign the pledge. The website features case studies explaining how excessive industry lobbying impacts upon the daily lives of ordinary EU citizens, as well as information about how MEPs can stand-up to it.

The Politics for People campaign has partners in 19 member states; a full list is available on-line.

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Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.