In an open letter published today, the civil society organisations welcome the decision but note that Monsanto’s lobbying efforts continue to target the European Parliament directly as well as indirectly. They urge MEPs to commit not to meet or correspond with Monsanto’s in-house or their for-hire lobbyists, neither as Parliament visitors nor outside of the institution.
Following MEPs’ vote to revoke the company’s two access badges for the European Parliament at the end of September, the institution’s quaestors have since implemented the decision. An effective ban would, however, need to go substantially beyond this step, the open letter argues.
Although Monsanto declares an annual EU lobby spending of less than €400,000, its commercial interests are also represented by a number of other lobby outfits, the costs for which are unlikely to be covered by the stated amount. Information from the EU Transparency Register shows that the pesticide manufacturer is also a client of at least four lobby consultancies, which according to their most recent set of figures billed the US firm at least €1 million for their services. Monsanto’s influencing strategy is further complemented by the work of trade associations, including the so-called Glyphosate Task Force, which is not even registered as a lobby actor.
The 24 NGOs have therefore asked MEPs to support a comprehensive and effective application of the temporary ban on Monsanto lobbyists which should include a commitment by the parliamentarians:
- to refuse to meet actors who seek to influence decision-making processes on behalf of Monsanto
- not to receive Monsanto representatives as visitors at the European Parliament
- to refuse to attend lobby meetings with Monsanto outside of the Parliament’s premises
- to report and/or make public any attempts by Monsanto lobbyists or third parties acting on the company’s behalf to meet with them following withdrawal of its access passes
Margarida Silva, lobby transparency campaigner for ALTER-EU member group Corporate Europe Observatory said:
“For this ban to have real teeth, MEPs will need to consider Monsanto’s full influencing strategy, including who else lobbies on its behalf".
“Media are already referring to the withdrawal of Monsanto’s Parliament access passes as a ‘sort of ban’, since it is not binding for MEPs, who can still invite Monsanto lobbyists into the building as visitors or meet them outside the premises. A tight implementation of this decision will be needed to counter it.”
Nina Katzemich, campaigner at ALTER-EU member organisation LobbyControl, added:
"Monsanto is a company that heavily relies on indirect lobbying to influence the EU institutions. The fact that the firm has lost its access badges but can still have others lobby the Parliament on its behalf is a stark reminder of how much still has to be done to implement proper lobby transparency at the EU Institutions."
"MEPs should seize the opportunity provided by the ongoing reform of the EU Transparency Register to commit to fully list their lobby meetings, to adopt stricter rules for their interactions with lobbyists and to do so for all activities covering direct as well as indirect lobbying."
Corporate Europe Observatory: Margarida Silva, email@example.com, +32 2 893 0930
LobbyControl: Nina Katzemich, firstname.lastname@example.org, +49 2 219 957 150
Notes to editors:
Read the open letter in full, which has been signed by the following 24 organisations:
- Access Info Europe
- Aktive Forbrugere
- Association Sherpa
- Attac Austria
- Center for Environment - Bosnia (Centar za životnu sredinu)
- Clean Air Action Group (Levegő Munkacsoport)
- Common Weal
- Corporate Europe Observatory
- Debt Observatory in Globalisation – ODG
- European Coordination via Campesina
- Food & Water Europe
- Friends of the Earth Europe
- Riparte il Futuro
- Science Citoyennes
- The International Monsanto Tribunal
- WECF International & WECF Netherlands
- The European Parliament Conference of Presidents on 28 September 2017 voted to revoke pesticide manufacturer Monsanto’s EU Parliament access passes, after the company refused to attend a hearing on the ‘Monsanto Papers’ jointly convened by the Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) and its Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI).
- The lobby consultancies representing Monsanto’s interests in Brussels include Hume Brophy, Interel European Affairs, Fleishman-Hillard and Red Flag.
- Industry associations representing Monsanto’s interests in Brussels include the European Seed Association, the European Crop Protection Association, EuropaBio, the European Biostimulants Industry Council and the Glyphosate Task Force – the latter of which is not even registered in the EU Transparency Register.