Edited text from Who lobbies most on TTIP? | Corporate Europe Observatory

While the European Commission claims that “there is nothing secret” about the ongoing EU-US trade talks,

it is carefully hiding how it teams up with big business to develop its positions for the negotiations.

Pro-actively published lists of meetings with lobbyists on TTIP can be found nowhere on its website.

Responses to freedom of information requests are delayed for months.

Once they are released, reports about meetings with business lobby groups on TTIP are heavily censored.

A freedom of information request which Corporate Europe Observatory sent in April 2013, to get an overview of the Commission’s contacts with industry, in the context of the preparations for the EU-US trade talks. The most recent documents arrived 14 months after the request was filed (while EU law requires a response within 15 working days).

Many of the meeting reports that were released are heavily censored.

The Commission has either ‘whitened’ or ‘blackened’ the parts it wants to keep from public scrutiny.

In some cases, like a meeting with lobbyists from Fertilizers Europe, every single word has been removed from the document

If the European Commission is serious about lobbying transparency and openness in the TTIP negotiations, it should post lists of all meetings with lobbyists on its website.

This would be a crucial step towards securing citizens’ right to know who influences the EU-US negotiations. It would also save a lot of time and energy for the many watchdogs, journalists, and others who must resort to access-to-documents requests, as well as for the Commission itself in replying to them.

For several years the UK Government has been making available lists of meetings with lobbyists per government department, updated quarterly.


These are the lobby groups that had most encounters with DG Trade when the TTIP negotiations were prepared in 2012 and early 2013:

BusinessEurope (the European employers’ federation and one of the most powerful lobby groups in the EU) and the European Services Forum (a lobby outfit banding together large services companies such as Deutsche Bank, Telefonica, and TheCityUK).

ACEA (the European car lobby, working for BMW, Ford, Renault, and others), CEFIC (the European Chemical Industry Council, lobbying for BASF, Bayer, Dow and others) and Freshfel (lobbying for the interests of producers and traders of fruits and vegetables).

Eucolait (the dairy traders’ lobby) and Food and Drink Europe (the biggest EU food industry lobby group, representing multinationals like Nestlé, Coca Cola, and Unilever).

The US Chamber of Commerce (the wealthiest of all US corporate lobbies), Digital Europe (whose members include all the big IT names, like Apple, Blackberry, IBM, and Microsoft) and the European Generic Medicines Association.

The American Chamber of Commerce (one of the most powerful business associations in the world), the Confederation of British Industry and the Federation of German Industries.

Links to the full list how the relevant data  was gathered can be found on the Corporate Europe Observatory website


When preparing the TTIP negotiations in 2012 and early 2013,

the European Commission’s trade department (DG Trade)

was lobbied by 298 ‘stakeholders’ 

269 of them from the private sector.

Of the 560 lobby encounters that the Commission had – in consultations, stakeholder debates and behind closed doors meetings – 520 (92%) were with business lobbyists.

Only 26 (4%) of the encounters were with public interest groups

(the remaining 4% were with other actors such as individuals, academic institutions and public administrations).

For every encounter with a trade union or consumer group, there were 20 with companies and industry federations.

(Full data and how it was gathered linked on Corporate Europe Observatory website).

There is evidence that DG Trade

actively encouraged the involvement of corporate lobbyists,

while keeping trade unionists and other public interest groups at bay.

autumn 2012, DG Trade chased pesticide lobby group ECPA to participate in the then-ongoing public consultation on TTIP.

(more details online)

Trade unions, environmentalists and consumer groups did not receive such special invites.

DG Trade’s responses to contributions to the public consultations also differed greatly.

While trade unionists received a standard confirmation receipt,

business lobbyists were invited to intimate follow-up meetings with negotiators.

The Association of Automotive Suppliers (CLEPA), for example, got an email from DG Trade thanking “you for your readiness to work with us,” and offering a meeting, “to discuss about your proposal, ask for clarification and consider next steps”.

Again, public interest groups did not receive this special treatment.

BusinessEurope and the US Chamber of Commerce,

(two of the most powerful pro-TTIP lobby groups,)

also had a follow-up meeting in November 2012,

after responding to one of the Commission consultations on TTIP.

On the table: their proposal for regulatory cooperation, a “potential game changer” which would allow business lobbyists to “co-write legislation”, as they put it.

At the table: officials from DG Trade, but also DG Enterprise and the General Secretariat of the Commission – more information online Corporate Europe Observatory website.

A year later, the EU negotiation position for regulatory cooperation in TTIP was leaked. The demands of the US Chamber and BusinessEurope had been largely accommodated


When preparing the TTIP negotiations in 2012 and early 2013,

the European Commission’s trade department (DG Trade)

was lobbied by 298 ‘stakeholders’ 

269 of them from the private sector.

Of the 560 lobby encounters that the Commission had – in consultations, stakeholder debates and behind closed doors meetings – 520 (92%) were with business lobbyists.

Only 26 (4%) of the encounters were with public interest groups

(the remaining 4% were with other actors such as individuals, academic institutions and public administrations).

For every encounter with a trade union or consumer group, there were 20 with companies and industry federations.

(Full data and how it was gathered linked on Corporate Europe Observatory website).

There is evidence that DG Trade

actively encouraged the involvement of corporate lobbyists,

while keeping trade unionists and other public interest groups at bay.

autumn 2012, DG Trade chased pesticide lobby group ECPA to participate in the then-ongoing public consultation on TTIP.

(more details online)

Trade unions, environmentalists and consumer groups did not receive such special invites.

DG Trade’s responses to contributions to the public consultations also differed greatly.

While trade unionists received a standard confirmation receipt,

business lobbyists were invited to intimate follow-up meetings with negotiators.

The Association of Automotive Suppliers (CLEPA), for example, got an email from DG Trade thanking “you for your readiness to work with us,” and offering a meeting, “to discuss about your proposal, ask for clarification and consider next steps”.

Again, public interest groups did not receive this special treatment.

BusinessEurope and the US Chamber of Commerce,

(two of the most powerful pro-TTIP lobby groups,)

also had a follow-up meeting in November 2012,

after responding to one of the Commission consultations on TTIP.

On the table: their proposal for regulatory cooperation, a “potential game changer” which would allow business lobbyists to “co-write legislation”, as they put it.

At the table: officials from DG Trade, but also DG Enterprise and the General Secretariat of the Commission – more information online Corporate Europe Observatory website.

A year later, the EU negotiation position for regulatory cooperation in TTIP was leaked. The demands of the US Chamber and BusinessEurope had been largely accommodated


Among the top-25 “stakeholders”who had most lobby contacts with DG Trade when the TTIP negotiations were being prepared,

there was no trade union, environmental organisation or consumer group. Among the top 50, there were 3.

(Check the full data of the analysis through Corporate Europe Observatory website)

Despite this evidence, the Commission does not tire of claiming that it does

“involve everyone with a stake in the outcome”.

74% of the meetings that took place around the launch of the TTIP talks and in the months after were with big business.

An internal DG Trade list of 154 ‘stakeholder’ meetings on TTIP between 1 July 2013 and 20 February 2014 reveals that at least 113 of them were with large corporations and their lobby groups.  (Friends of the Earth)


In the preparatory phase of the TTIP talks, no one had as many lobby encounters with DG Trade as the agribusiness lobby.

Out of a total of 560 encounters, 113 were with food multinationals, agri-traders and seed producers.

They had more contacts with DG Trade than lobbyists from the pharmaceutical, chemical, financial, and car industries together.

(Full data and how it was categorised Corporate Europe Observatory website.)

Amongst the agribusiness groups lobbying for TTIP, many have a nasty record of fighting stricter safety and environmental standards for food and agriculture in the EU.

Some have fought against consumer-friendly food-labelling in the EU

Many have lobbied for allowing more GMO crops, in animal feed but also for direct human consumption

The pesticides producers’ lobby ECPA and its members (including Bayer, Monsanto, BASF, Dow and many more) have waged an all-out lobbying war against the ban of certain pesticides, which are suspected to be one of the drivers behind the mass dying of bees, as well as against an EU initiative to ban endocrine (hormone) disrupting chemicals – including many pesticides.

The fact that the European Commission liaised so closely with these aggressive agribusiness lobby groups when preparing the TTIP negotiations is a good reason to be concerned


More than 30% (94 out of 269) of the private sector interest groups which have lobbied DG Trade on TTIP

are not registered in the EU’s Transparency Register,

amongst them large companies such as

Walmart, Walt Disney, General Motors, France Telecom, and Maersk.

Some of the industry associations lobbying hardest for TTIP such as the US Chamber of Commerce and the Transatlantic Business Council are also lobbying under the radar.

Only 5 of the 298 ‘stakeholders’ who have lobbied DG Trade in the preparatory phase of the TTIP talks mention TTIP amongst the important issues they are currently lobbying on. So, for those who want to find out who is lobbying on TTIP and what amount they spend to make the deal happen, the register provides few to no answers.

This indicates two serious flaws of the EU’s Transparency Register:

it is voluntary, which leaves companies and lobby groups free to avoid appearing in it – as many do.

disclosure requirements are limited as registrants are, for example, not obliged to report exactly which specific issues they lobby on (such as TTIP).

But the public has a right to know who is lobbying for TTIP, how many lobbyists are involved and how much money they spend. Only a mandatory register which requires comprehensive and reliable information about lobbying will shed light on corporate lobby pressure behind the TTIP talks. The EU must make its lobby transparency register TTIP-proof!

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