Interview CEO and foodwatch: End EU Council sponsorship deals now!
End EU Council sponsorship deals now!
At the beginning of March, Corporate Europe Observatory, foodwatch and Climáximo, a Portuguese activists organisation launched an online campaign to put pressure on the Portuguese Presidency and the member state ambassadors to finally put an end to deals between governments and big business during the six-month rotating Presidencies of the EU.
To support the campaign sign here.
Could you explain this campaign?
Vicky (CEO): Every six months, an EU member state takes over the role of the EU Council Presidency. This is an important role: deciding which draft laws the Council will prioritise for scrutiny and making proposals on them, as well as representing all the other member states in negotiations with other EU institutions.
But almost every recent Presidency (with the recent exception of the German Government, July-December 2020) has accepted sponsorship for its Presidency from national or multinational businesses. This sponsorship can be for goods or services in kind (the provision of catering at meetings or events, vehicles to transport ministers and officials to meetings inside the country etc.) or it can be in the form of cash payments.
Suzy (foodwatch): When the Romanian Presidency was sponsored by Coca-Cola in 2019, foodwatch made a complaint to the European Ombudsman who agreed that these deals provoked reputational risks to the EU and that guidelines should be put in place.
Since then, the EU member states in the Council have been discussing a set of guidelines to regulate corporate sponsorship.
However, the guidelines are very weak and would not ban the practice, but simply demand greater transparency. According to this article, a number of the member states are even against that.
Now that the Portuguese Council Presidency has accepted sponsorship itself, attracting renewed criticism of the practice, it is time to take a stand.
What needs to happen?
Vicky: This is the easy bit!
The EU member states should agree to ban all corporate sponsorship of future Council Presidencies. The German Government opted against signing such dodgy deals - this must now become the norm.
Suzy: We will continue to put pressure until these deals are stopped.
Our campaign has so far helped to get the issue back on the table and it will be discussed on 30 March in the Council working party. But weak guidelines that still allow these deals are not enough.
Please support our campaign and send a clear message to the decision makers not finally make this clear: No to any future sponsorship deals!