LobbyControl on Monday accused the European Union of doing too little to combat corporate influence. A new report by the German NGO said there are insufficient rules to limit such influence, which takes place through expert groups, meetings between civil servants and lobbyists or informal channels. The report said the recruitment of politicians as lobbyists, the dependence of the EU's civil service on corporate expertise and lobbyists' privileged access to decision makers through exclusive events were the main sources of corporate influence.
"Corporations can draw on an incredible lobbying power to push through their interests," said the report's author, Nina Katzemich. "Two-thirds of the 25,000 lobbyists who influence laws, politics and public opinion in Europe with an annual budget of 1.5 billion euros represent business interests."
The report said EU member governments were some of the main lobbyists in Brussels, with many countries pushing for EU rules and decisions that reflect the interests of their national industries.
The EU allows "corporations and the rich to move their assets to shadow financial centres and thus evade their tax responsibility," it said.
"Through tax avoidance and optimization, EU member states lost €50 to €70 billion in tax revenue every year," said LobbyControl political director Imke Dierssen.
Some 70 percent of representatives on an EU expert group set up to discuss emissions tests for cars came from the automotive industry. According to the EU Parliament, this group helped delay a more effective test for vehicle emissions by years.