Here's transparency for you: The EU's invisible lobbyists
"We said this is one of the very few things in which we can imitate the Americans, but the Commission didn't want to do it," said Frassoni. "The Barroso Commission is permeable to lobbyists."
NOTE: In a UK context see also:
*Exposed: the arms lobbyist in Parliament
'We'll ask the questions that you can't, without your fingerprints,' he tells clients
*Peer was paid to introduce lobbyist to minister
And then we have the lobbyists intimately tied into the governing Labour Party, like Lexington Communications which represents the biotech industry:
Here's transparency for you, The EU's invisible lobbyists
NEW EUROPE, 30 June 2008
Well, skeptics who said the European Commission's voluntary registration for lobbyists who prowl the halls of Brussels looking to influence EU leaders and lawmakers with money and delusions of grandeur wouldn't work had to eat their words. The first day the spineless system was set up, the estimated 15,000 lobbyists who slink around the corridors of power were knocking each other down to sign up.
By day's end, 17 apparently sucker companies who are now the laughingstock of their peers were on the list, although it soon swelled to 42, proving that Siim "Pushover" Kallas, the European Commission vice-president in charge of the imaginary audit and anti-fraud unit, was right when he said the system was "an important moment of cultural change" and shouldn't be obligatory. "We think a voluntary system can be even more efficient than a mandatory system," Kallas said, but when asked how, his eyes rotated like a slot machine, Euro signs appeared and then he rolled over and fell asleep, just the way industry likes their Commissioners to do.
Kallas has been emasculated so many times by his peers that if it happens again the Commission can say they finally have another woman on board. The only people lamer than him are those at Telefonica, the Spanish telecom giant which was the first to sign up, revealing they spent 950,000 Euro in 2007 lobbying EU institutions. Now their rivals know what Telefonic's doing and don't have to report what they're doing because the voluntary system says companies and groups don't have to say exactly how much they spent or who got the money.
To pretend they're regulating the people who are the real leaders of the EU, the chemical and auto industries and business federations who have a lot to lose if laws are passed requiring them to have a conscience, the European Cockaigne set up the phony voluntary system. Coming next: voluntary registration for paedophiles, bank robbers, rapists and embezzlers, but they don't have to list their names, just an estimate of how many people they've robbed, raped, murdered or stolen from, and approximately how much. Many lobbyists, excepting those who work for most nongovernmental organisations and genuinely humane groups, are unscrupulous protozoa, and they love this voluntary system because it begs them to just estimate their wrong-doing as they co-opt EU officials.
What do you expect from a Commission which refuses to reveal who is getting their fat little contracts and hides the real reason they won't be tough on lobbyists: because one day they want to be rich lobbyists and avoid conflict of interest appearances before they do. How bad is it? Monica Frassoni, a Member of the European Parliament from Italy and the Greens Party, said they've counted at least 30 staff members at the European Commission getting paid by big companies to do their bidding and be their moles.
"They arrived as 'national experts,' but are paid by industry," she said. She said Kallas made an attempt to be tougher but was sat down in his chair by other Commissioners, especially President Jose Manuel Barroso and his righthand bag man Gunter "Nudo boy" Verheugen, who is so deep in the pockets of industry they may have to name a new sharkskin suit after him. He was the guy who gutted the REACH chemical law at the behest of industry, his many critics and opponents said.
The United States has a mandatory registration system for lobbyists because otherwise there'd be so much power-brokering and money influence over Congress that the culture of corruption would be almost as prevalent as it is in Europe. Money corrupts, but lots of money corrupts absolutely.
"We said this is one of the very few things in which we can imitate the Americans, but the Commission didn't want to do it," said Frassoni. "The Barroso Commission is permeable to lobbyists," she said. And in the tank. European politicians have deluded themselves into thinking they can take money from lobbyists without a quid pro quo. "There is a sincere impressions members and politicians can resist it," she said. "They think there is nothing wrong if a lobbyist asks them to do something and they don't want to do it." Until, of course, the lobbyists voluntarily stop putting their names where it counts on the checks.