Euractiv: European Parliament hit by "lobbyists' tsunami" ahead of vote on Fit for 55

Every time the most important pieces of legislation reach the European Parliament, MEPs become the target of all kinds of lobbyists trying to influence them. This is still the case with climate laws, in addition to which there is a very large lobby. notes Euractiv.

READ ALSO: Scandal in the European Parliament. Fit for 55 package rejected by unusual far-right and far-left coalition | Digi24

“I can say without a doubt that we are facing a real tsunami of lobbyists,” said Pascal Canfin, chair of the European Parliament’s Environment Committee (ENVI), which oversees key issues in the environmental package. and “Fit for 55” climate.

“Fit for 55” refers to the European Union’s goal of reducing global warming emissions by at least 55% before the end of this decade. This is part of a larger Union plan to reduce emissions to “zero net” by 2050.

Both targets have been adopted since last year as part of a European climate plan that represents the interests of all 27 member states of the bloc.

The wall built by the great European industrialists

But as the European Parliament on Wednesday passed detailed legislative proposals to achieve these goals, MEPs are facing a wall from some industries, from carmakers to steelmakers to chemists.

The automotive sector alone has held 32 meetings with MEPs working on EU legislation on CO2 emissions proposed by manufacturers between September 2021 and March 2022.

smoke pollution industry gettyimages
Carbon dioxide levels in the Earth’s atmosphere have risen to values ​​that are over 50% higher than in pre-industrial periods of human civilization. Photo: GettyImages

22 meetings were held with trade partners or companies opposing EU plans to end future sales of cars with internal combustion engines (petrol and diesel).

Similarly, since MEPs were appointed to deal with climate issues, there have been 52 meetings attended by MEPs.

German steelmaker Thyssenkrupp, the Eurofer steel association and the Federation of German Industries (BDI) were the groups that met most often with MEPs, according to public documents. According to the Influence Map platform, these groups are generally opposed to EU plans to end the current system whereby industries receive the most benefits from purchasing and trading CO2 permits.

“Of course, there is nothing wrong with lobbying this cause,” Canfin said. “We are in a democracy, we are in a market economy, it is normal for a campaign to declare that it does not agree,” he added at a news conference last week.

“But if you take all the lobbying positions in all the industries and put them together, you won’t be able to reach -55%, most likely you will reach + 30%,” Canfin said jokingly, adding: “To be honest, it is irresponsible,” the MEP concluded.

Separately, in a free article published in the French daily Le Monde, Canfin pointed out that German carmaker BMW and trade association Eurofer had tried to “blow up” the EU’s “Fit for 55” package on climate change.

Business associations are often seen as negative characters because they tend to align with the least ambitious of their corporate members. This has led some companies to question associations such as BusinessEurope.

“Evidence is overwhelming that ambitious climate policies can lead to economic recovery,” said Ursula Woodburn, head of EU relations at CLG Europe, a group of companies lobbying to accelerate climate action.

“We have already delayed the fight against the climate crisis, and in order to maintain the progress of this project, short-term profits are less important than long-term economic and social stability,” Woodburn said.

Double the standard of European business executives

Canfin is not the only MEP to denounce lobbying pressure. Others, such as Michael Bloss, a German Green MEP, and Delara Burkhardt, a German S&D MEP, have complained of pressure from parts of the industry that they say they “use people’s fears” about food shortages. at high energy prices to reduce the ambition of the “Fit for 55” project.

The downside is the directors of companies that can publicly take green positions, while their public affairs representatives in Brussels oppose opposing positions in closed-door meetings, Canfin said.

“That’s what I tell students: before you join a company, look at their positions in public affairs. Because, sometimes it is more or less the opposite of what is said in a beautiful way with the Davos style “, Canfin also declared.

Disagreeing with a public policy is a normal thing, Canfin pointed out. But what lobbyists are failing to do is make alternative policy proposals that have the same climate effect as the EU’s original plan.

“It simply came to our notice then. That is our ability to live on this planet, “Canfin concluded.

Read also: Scandal in the European Parliament. Fit for 55 package rejected by unusual far-right and far-left coalition

(Editor: Anca Crăciun)

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