A group of European Parliamentarians has published a new report pinpointing 88 instances of a revolving door between the fossil industries and the public sectors in 13 European countries.
EcoWatch points out that the same dynamic is alive and well in the United States, where Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson’s brief tenure as U.S. secretary of state came to symbolize corporate capture of the current White House administration. And “the turnover between public servants and fossil fuel industry workers facilitated four permits for liquefied natural gas export facilities” during the Obama presidency.
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The EU report, commissioned by the Green/European Free Alliance (EFA) group in the European Parliament, suggests a connection between fossil industry influence and EU countries’ failure to engage seriously on a conflict of interest policy for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change—a discussion that is largely about fossil and other industry influence over the process.
“Perhaps the extent of the revolving door phenomenon across Europe is one of the reasons why the European Union and its member states have been siding with other large polluting economies such as the USA and Canada in their attempts to block discussions on conflicts of interest, despite the fact that governments from across the globe have raised this as an issue at the UN level,” the report states.
The 144-page study documents different forms of “revolving door” influence in different EU countries, EcoWatch reports. In Spain, 26 former ministers and senior party officials were working for private energy companies in 2016. In the UK, France, Belgium, and Norway, by comparison, fossils were more likely to hire former government policy advisors.
Across the continent, the report spotlights cases involving 28 ex-ministers or secretaries of state, 28 senior public servants or cabinet members, 22 members of parliament, and 10 former government regulators.
“It is hard to deny that the fossil fuel industry has been fiercely fighting effective climate policies over the past couple of decades,” it states. “This industry is not only highly influential, but it is also an effective recruiter of former regulators in the energy sector,” and “its political influence stands out.”
The study recommended a three-year “cooling off period” before public servants can work for industries they regulated, “lobbying transparency registers” to support public oversight, “machine readable declarations of interest” to track the past careers of new office holders, and codes of conduct on public sector conflict of interest.
Conflict of interest was on the agenda during the mid-year climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany earlier this month, and while the discussion was inconclusive, it’ll continue next June, Corporate Europe Observatory reports.
“While governments representing nearly 70% of the world have demanded a robust conflict of interest policy, the U.S. tried its best to kill the proposal dead,” the organization states. The EU “has traditionally sided with the USA in blocking progress on addressing conflicts of interest,” the Observatory adds. This time, “thanks to bottom-up pressure, the European Union stepped back from supporting Trump and his big polluters’ agenda, but fell short of backing calls for a conflict of interest policy. As its delegation returns to Brussels, expect pressure back home to intensify.”
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