Education International
Education International

Big business still in charge of the advisory groups of the European Commission

published 8 November 2013 updated 8 November 2013

On 6 November 2013, ALTER-EU, AK EUROPA and ÖGB Europabüro released a report showing that still mostly the big business dominate the advisory groups of the European Commission despite the promise given over a year ago to reform the groups.

The research shows that across all groups recently created, there are more representatives from big business than all other stakeholders combined.  52% of seats were taken by representatives of big business, compared to only 3% for trade unions.

However, in some groups the situation is even worse. In the Commission’s directorate responsible for tax (DG TAXUD) as much as 80% of the stakeholders are representing corporate interests, while trade unions only represent 1%.

Pascoe Sabido representing ALTER-EU steering committee member Corporate Europe Observatory said: “ The corporate capture of many of these new groups, particularly astounding in DG Taxation, shows the Commission has clearly broken its promise to the Parliament to tackle this problem. At a time when trust in political institutions – national and European – is at an all-time low, the Commission must ensure Expert Groups are as democratic, transparent and accountable as possible, and not merely seen as doing corporations' bidding.”

There has been criticism that the closed expert groups involved limited stakeholders and perspectives, but resulting in policy recommendations having effects on all parts of society. In 2012, the European Commission agreed to launch calls for application although with the condition that they would be used “as far as reasonably practicable”. However, across the 32 new advisory groups only 41% had open calls for applications. The directorate dealing with education and culture did not initiate any open calls.