EU Commission Redefines Corporate Lobbyists As 'Civil Society' To Pretend To Be Transparent In TAFTA/TTIP
from the bare-faced-cheek dept
The fact that the USTR continues to peddle the line that TPP is "the most transparent trade negotiation in history," despite a dogged refusal to reveal its negotiating positions to the public (to say nothing of any draft texts), indicates that the US government is acutely aware that its attitude towards transparency in TPP and TAFTA/TTIP is both unpopular and unjustifiable. Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, the European Commission too is desperately trying to convince people that it is conducting the TTIP negotiations in a fully open way. For example, earlier this week, the Commission held what it called an "Outreach" session in Brussels:
As part of an ongoing commitment to transparency, DG TRADE is organising a second Civil Society Dialogue to discuss progress and to exchange views on the TTIP.
As well as trumpeting its "ongoing commitment to transparency," the European Commission claims that this is a "Civil Society Dialogue." On the same Web page, there's a list of who had registered to participate in this session. Here are some of the "civil societies" that caught my eye in a quick scan:
ICMP, the global voice of music publishing
Putting those and similar business organizations to one side, I came up with around 26 genuine civil society groups out of a total of 196 registered entities. A Swedish TTIP site came up with about 30. So even allowing for some vagueness in definitions, I think it's safe to say that fewer than 20% of those that had signed up for the "Civil Society Dialogue" were actually civil societies; the remaining 80% were essentially lobbying groups for European and US companies.
Committee for European Construction Equipment
European Association of Sugar Traders
European Agricultural Machinery
American Chamber of Commerce to the European Union
European Petroleum Industry
European Banking Federation
European Patent Office
Confederation of British Industry
Confederation of European Community Cigarette Manufacturers
What this represents is an extraordinary -- and outrageous -- rebranding exercise. The European Commission clearly wants to be able to point to these meetings as "proof" that it is acting transparently, and engaging with civil society as well as business. But the facts prove the exact opposite: the vast majority of the people there came from corporate organizations representing powerful industry groups on both sides of the Atlantic. The "Civil Society Dialogue" turns out to be a sham and yet another opportunity for companies to push their agendas, so that the European Commission can claim it has wide support for its anti-democratic, pro-corporate negotiating positions.