Issue Date: July 27, 2009
CEFIC's Lobbying Rights Suspended
The European Commission has suspended the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC) from a voluntary lobbying register for eight weeks. The suspension follows a complaint by the environmental group Friends of the Earth Europe (FOEE) claiming that lobbying cost figures submitted by the trade association for 2007 are unrealistically low.
In its complaint, FOEE noted that CEFIC, with a staff of 170 and an annual budget of $54 million, reported that its costs directly related to representing interests to European Union institutions amounted to $71,000. FOEE alleges that a budget figure taking into account staff, publications, and events would be considerably higher.
The commission concurred. “The Secretariat General has received some information from CEFIC that led it to consider that the declaration of CEFIC may indeed raise problems as regards its estimate of expenditures,” it says in a statement. CEFIC has been given a chance to restate its lobbying budget.
“CEFIC is not at all transparent about its lobbying work,” says Paul de Clerck, corporates campaigner at FOEE. “They make a joke of the commission’s lobby register by reporting a completely false lobby budget.”
CEFIC has issued a response expressing support for the European Transparency Initiative, a voluntary program under which the EC registers lobbying groups. The trade association claims, however, that arriving at a specific figure for lobbying of EU institutions is difficult given its scope and its interactions with members and other associations.
“CEFIC will reconsider its current position once the official statement of the commission and clearer guidance will have been received,” it says.
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