EurActiv - Letters to the Editor

Open letter to the newly appointed trade commissioner, Baroness Catherine Ashton

BusinessEurope out of Charlemagne now!

Baroness Ashton, welcome to your new position as EU trade commissioner. I am hopeful that we will be able to collaborate successfully, especially on environmental and global justice issues.

During the autumn of 2006 your predecessor, Peter Mandelson, presented the strategy document Global Europe. Many of us were surprised by its excessive demands for deregulation of trade and the opening of global markets to European companies. Global Europe, seen as the Lisbon Strategy’s external dimension, was shaped by the Commission’s staff in close cooperation with European big business and their lobbying organisation in Brussels, Business Europe.

The EU is fond of speaking about the conditions and priorities of poor countries. But actions speak louder than words. The EU’s current trade policy is clearly contrary to sustainable development, and stresses the commercial interests of big business over the fight against poverty and for fair trade rules. A significant part of the reason for this is the presence of BusinessEurope and its influence on the setting of the Union’s trade policies.

The intimate relationship between the Directorate-General for Trade and BusinessEurope has long been a cause for concern. But the fact that the collaboration has now advanced and been made more concrete is more than a little worrying. It is, in fact, very distressing that BusinessEurope is organising the conference ‘Going Global’ on October 28 in the Commission’s own premises in Brussels, with the participation of several commissioners, for the purpose of evaluating Global Europe. This sends dangerous signals to the citizens of Europe at a time when the Union’s legitimacy is already questioned by many with diverse perspectives.

This can hardly be in line with the impartiality that is meant to be the natural character of the Commission. Baroness Ashton, you have a golden opportunity to correct the situation. I strongly encourage you to:
1. Treat BusinessEurope as the lobbying organi’ation that it is.
2. Remove BusinessEurope from your premises at the Charlemagne building. They can afford to rent an office on the local property market.
3. Join the fight against poverty and for sustainable development through closer cooperation with developing countries and aid organisations in Europe.

With best regards,

Jens Holm

Swedish MEP (GUE/NGL)

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