28 March 2012
European Commission secrecy around Transatlantic Business Dialogue is "maladministration"
"(Amsterdam, July 4 2002) European Ombudsman Jacob Söderman last week condemned the European Commission's secrecy around the Transatlantic Business Dialogue (TABD). The Commission has for over two years refused the Amsterdam-based Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) access to key documents on the Commission's involvement in the business dialogue. In a 'draft recommendation' dated June 27, the Ombudsman
concludes that the refusal is "maladministration" and calls the Commission to give CEO access to the requested documents.
Through the TABD over 100 of the largest EU and US-based corporations
jointly identify regulations and policies which they consider
"barriers to transatlantic trade". Due to far-reaching
support from the European Commission and the US government, the
industry body routinely succeeds in weakening or postponing new
environment protection measures. The Ombudsman's call to end the Commission's secrecy is a significant victory for civil society which for several year has campaigned against the TABD's privileged political power and the lack of transparency.
The Commission denied CEO access to the documents claiming
to protect "international relations" and arguing that
there is "no real public interest in disclosure". The
Ombudsman in his recommendation concludes that CEO "is entitled
to invoke a public interest in disclosure of documents concerning
the Commission's relationship with
TABD". Söderman also states that it is not for the Commission "to say which documents might or might not be useful for citizens in carrying out monitoring of the Commission's exercise of its powers."
For more information, contact Olivier Hoedeman, Corporate
Observatory: tel/fax +31 20 6127023, email: email@example.com
Notes for the editor:
1: Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) is a research and campaigning group targeting the threats to democracy, equity, social justice and the environment posed by the economic and political power of corporations and their lobby groups.
2: The decision comes more than two years after CEO first requested access to the documents. The disputed papers are the Commission's briefing notes for the TABD's November 1999 CEO Conference in Berlin. These documents, including pre-prepared speeches for Commissioners and other European Commission staff, are the only real source for monitoring what was said behind closed doors.
3: TABD conferences are attended by high-level delegations from the European Commission and the US government. Despite the fact that the TABD is a private sector group with no official status in the EU treaties, the Commission refers to its involvement in the TABD events as "negotiations". For background information on the TABD, see for instance the CEO briefing "TABD in Troubled Water": Corporate Europe
European Ombudsman: Recommendation
The TABD's website: http://www.tabd.com/
Statewatch News online | Join Statewatch news e-mail list | If you use this site regularly, you are encouraged to make a donation to Statewatch to support future research | Subscribe to Statewatch online just £10 a year
© Statewatch ISSN 1756-851X.Material may
be used providing the source is acknowledged. Statewatch
does not have a corporate view, nor does it seek to create one,
the views expressed are those of the author. Statewatch is not
responsible for the content of external websites and inclusion
of a link does not constitute an endorsement.
Spotted an error? If you've spotted a problem with this page, just click once to let us know.
Statewatch does not have a corporate view, nor does it seek to create one, the views expressed are those of the author. Statewatch is not responsible for the content of external websites and inclusion of a link does not constitute an endorsement. Registered UK charity number: 1154784. Registered UK company number: 08480724. Registered company name: The Libertarian Research & Education Trust. Registered office: c/o MDR, 88 Fleet Street, London EC4Y 1DH, UK. © Statewatch ISSN 1756-851X. Personal usage as private individuals "fair dealing" is allowed. We also welcome links to material on our site. Usage by those working for organisations is allowed only if the organisation holds an appropriate licence from the relevant reprographic rights organisation (eg: Copyright Licensing Agency in the UK) with such usage being subject to the terms and conditions of that licence and to local copyright law.