- Former EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson (centre) with former Indian Commerce and Industry Minister, Kamal Nath (right), former CII President Sunil Bharti Mittal (left) and BusinessEurope’s Philippe de Buck
Corporate Europe Observatory | 15 February 2011
EU Commission sued over privileging corporate lobby groups in EU-India trade talks
Today, Corporate Europe Observatory launched a legal action, suing the EU’s executive in the EU General Court for withholding documents related to the EU’s free trade talks with India. The Commission is accused of discriminating in favour of corporate lobby groups and of violating the EU’s transparency rules.
The case concerns 17 documents including meeting reports, emails and a letter, which the Commission’s trade department (DG Trade) sent to industry associations including BusinessEurope and the Confederation of the European Food and Drink Industry (CIAA). While these corporate lobby groups received full versions of the documents, the Commission only released censored versions to Corporate Europe Observatory, arguing that full disclosure would undermine the EU’s international relations. The censored sections relate to allegedly sensitive information about priorities and strategies in the ongoing trade talks with India including issues such as tariff cuts, services, investment and government procurement liberalisation and health standards.
What is at stake is whether the Commission can continue its practice of granting big business privileged access to its trade policy-making process by sharing information that is withheld from the public. This practice not only hampers well-informed and meaningful public participation in EU trade policy-making, it also leads to a trade policy that, while catering for big business needs, is harmful to people and the environment in the EU and the world.