Captured states: When EU governments are a channel for corporate interests

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The member states of the European Union are intimately involved in, and responsible for, the EU’s laws and policies. This new  report by the Corporate Europe Observatory focuses on the democratic deficit that sees too many member states, on too many issues, become captured states, allowing corporate interests to malignly influence the decisions they take on EU matters. Instead of acting in the public interest of their citizens and those in the wider EU, they often operate as channels of corporate influence. Many of the ways in which member states feed into EU decision-making are not well-known and are neither transparent nor commonly studied. This report breaks new ground by providing an overview of how member states act as middlemen for corporate interests with a focus on several European institutions.

With the Corporate Europe Observatory report, we hope to alert civil society and decision-makers to the threat that corporate lobbies, influencing member states, have on EU decision-making, and our final recommendations set out some initial steps to start to counter this corporate influence. They include:

  1. Member state governments must adopt national rules and cultures which reduce the risk of corporate influence on EU decision-making, including an end to privileged access for corporate lobbies and full lobby transparency.
  2. Member state parliamentary scrutiny and accountability on government decision-making at EU level must be strengthened. This should include both pre-decision scrutiny and post decision accountability.
  3. Urgent action is needed by the EU institutions to tackle the democratic deficit in how they operate. These will require reforms of the Council of the EU, the European Council , and the European Commission’s comitology process and advisory groups.
  4. We urgently need new models for citizens to both find out more about, and have a say on, the EU matters with which member states are tasked with deciding. This could include participatory hearings, at the national level, on upcoming pieces of EU legislation; on-line consultations; and more.

Policy prescriptions: The firepower of the EU pharmaceutical lobby and implications for public health

Corporate Europe Observatory                                                                

Executive summary

The pharmaceutical industry – including companies, associations and the top ten lobby firms they employ – have a declared lobby spend of nearly €40 million. That is around 15 times more than the lobby expenditure of civil society and consumer groups which work on public health or access to medicines. Although many pharma industry actors declare more realistic expenditure in the lobby register than three years ago, the real spending may be much more. Nonetheless, the top ten biggest spending pharmaceutical companies now declare €6 million more than in 2012, whilst the top eight European pharmaceutical industry trade associations declare seven times more. Moreover this powerful lobby has had a staggering number of meetings with European Commission departments and officials. The largest public-private partnership in the EU is with the pharmaceutical industry. Alongside its gargantuan resources and considerable access, the industry has an impressive lobbying arsenal. Its efforts are now focused on ensuring US-EU trade agreement TTIP furthers its profit-motivated agenda, including its property rights and to prevent vital data transparency for big pharma’s clinical trials.

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