New campaign 'pins down' prospective MEPs

29 April 2009

Candidates called to pledge to stop corporate interests dominating Brussels

Brussels, April 29 - A Europe-wide campaign launched in Brussels today is challenging candidates in June's European Parliament elections to show their support for a European Union that puts public interests before private profits.

At voters from all 27 EU member states can 'pin down' MEP candidates by asking them where they stand on issues including lobbying transparency, big business accountability, trade, and financial market regulation.

The initiative, organised by more than 400 campaign groups across Europe, asks MEP hopefuls to sign up to a series of pledges to promote issues such as a mandatory system of registration and reporting for all lobbyists influencing EU policy making; a strengthened legal framework for corporate accountability; an EU trade agenda that prioritises economic and social justice instead of big business profits, and legislation on financial markets, ending tax avoidance and fighting corruption.

A multilingual website enables voters in all 27 EU member states to monitor which candidates have committed to which demands, and encourages citizens to ask their candidates to provide leadership towards transparency, accountability and social justice.

FoEE campaigners urged MEP's outside Parliament in Brussels to show their support for a European Union that puts public interests before private profits.

"The last Parliament voted too often for proposals that were beneficial for business but bad for people and the environment," Paul de Clerck from Friends of the Earth Europe says. "These elections are a key opportunity for future parliamentarians to put the democracy issue on the political agenda of the EU and to promote public interests."

"At present over 15,000 lobbyists influence EU decision-making - a large majority are serving big business interests and are often granted privileged access to EU institutions," Erik Wesselus of ALTER-EU said. "As a crucial first step towards addressing these problems, a mandatory system of registration and reporting for all lobbyists would help legislators and citizens to know who is attempting to shape EU policies."

"The current financial crisis has its roots in the political decisions to put the 'freedom' of financial markets above social and ecological justice. The European Parliament should call for legislation to regulate financial markets in the interest of the public, including closing all tax havens and obliging all corporations, including banks, to increase transparency, curb tax avoidance and tax evasion and fight corruption," argues Alexandra Strickner of the European Attac network.

"The next European Parliament should play a greater role in ensuring European big business is made legally accountable for the social and environmental impacts it causes. Voluntary and non-enforceable mechanisms do not provide adequate solutions to affected communities and workers. A more binding approach is needed to complement the myriad of CSR voluntary initiatives", Ruth Casals of ECCJ said.

"Members of the European Parliament should speak out in favour of environmental and social justice and against the big business dominance on the EU trade agenda. The trade deals currently being negotiated will secure big profits for European companies at the expense of people and the environment in the South and here in Europe," states Amélie Canonne of the Seattle to Brussels network.

Four European-wide civil society networks – the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (Alter-EU), the European Attac network, the Seattle to Brussels Network (S2B), and the European Coalition for Corporate Justice (ECCJ), of which Friends of the Earth is a member of three – representing more than 400 civil society organisations, non-government organisations and social movements from across Europe are jointly launching the 'Pin down your candidate' campaign. The policy areas addressed by the campaign cover the issues and demands of each one of their networks.