MEPs urged to evict business liaison group from offices inside European Parliament

14 November 2008

Brussels, 14 November 2008 - Transparency campaigners have today written to the Bureau of the European Parliament urging it to use its meeting today to enforce a previous decision to ask the European Business and Parliament Scheme (EBPS) to vacate its offices inside the European Parliament building [1].

The Parliament’s Conference of Presidents ruled earlier this year that EBPS should be asked to leave after it was revealed that the business liaison group benefits from privileged access to MEPs, as well as rent-free offices and a parliament email address.

Campaigners say despite the ruling, EBPS continued to abuse its position, facilitating access to high profile MEPs for its members from big business and continuing to, as its website says, “inform economic policy and legislation”. EBPS was recently nominated for a Worst EU Lobbying Award because its abuse of privileged access [2].

Erik Wesselius, a campaigner with Corporate Europe Observatory, one of the groups behind the letter, said: “The EPBS is abusing its position within the Parliament building and should be forced to relocate immediately. Its apparent aim of furthering MEPs’ understanding of business in reality provides multinational companies with exclusive opportunities to access and influence MEPs. What is worst is that it does this at the public’s expense.”

The letter, signed by Corporate Europe Observatory, Friends of the Earth Europe, Lobbycontrol and Spinwatch, cites an example of an MEP with responsibilities for energy issues being invited to form an attachment with the multinational company Suez, which has significant commercial interests in a number of areas of EU policy.

Campaigners also warn that that EBPS is no longer accountable as the scheme’s board - made up of MEPs - resigned en masse in September following concerns about activities. They have written to the International Association of Business and Parliament (the EBPS parent body) to raise their concerns [3].

Campaigners are calling on the Bureau to confirm the decision made by the Conference of Presidents and ensure action is taken.

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Notes to Editors:

[1] The Bureau of the European Parliament is the body responsible for laying down rules for the Parliament - see http://www.europarl.europa.eu/parliament/expert/staticDisplay.do?id=53&pageRank=4&language=EN

Copies of the letter to the Bureau are available at:

http://www.worstlobby.eu/2008/uploads/Letter_to_EP_Bureau_on_EBPS.pdf

[2] For more details about the Worst EU Lobbying Awards 2008 and the EBPS nominations, see www.worstlobby.eu/2008/

[3] See http://www.worstlobby.eu/2008/uploads/WEULA_reply_to_EBPS.pdf