tackling corporate lobbying and greenwash
As part of our strategy to break the lobbying strategies employed by giant corporations in Brussels, FoE Europe also filed a complaint to the European Ombudsman challenging a decision by Mr Fraser, Head of Cabinet for Mr Mandelson, the EC’s Commissioner for External Trade. The complaint concerned two members of the Cabinet being allowed to attend the opening match of the Rugby World Cup in Paris on 7 September 2007, at the invitation of sportswear company Nike, thus enjoying VIP hospitality. We believe there was a conflict of interest, as these two senior officials have been involved in trade defense cases, including in relation to Chinese and Vietnamese shoe imports.
Many companies whose operations have disastrous environmental impacts spend significant sums of money on slick advertising campaigns intended to improve their image: FoEI focuses on exposing and challenging this greenwash. Over the last two years, FoEI has filed successful complaints against multinationals including Shell, ExxonMobil, the Malaysian Palm Oil Council, OMV, and Ariva, for their misleading advertisements in the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden and Germany. Our complaints have gained media attention across the world, at both the local and international levels, and arguments and audiovisuals targeting the cases have been reproduced in different mass media, including on popular websites like YouTube.
More than 8,500 people also took part in the online public vote for the Worst EU Lobbying Awards, organized jointly by FoE Europe, Corporate Europe Observatory, Lobby Control and Spinwatch. The Award ceremony, which exposed five controversial corporate lobbying cases, was a major success, with well over 100 guests and extensive media coverage; the 'winners' were a joint nomination for three agrofuel lobbyists - the Malaysian Palm Oil Council, Brazilian sugar barons UNICA, and energy company Abengoa Bioenergy - for their use of misleading information and greenwash. These lobbyists tried to influence crucial debates in the European Parliament and Council by claiming that agrofuels are sustainable.
Another successful action action was an exhibition exposing the greenwashing practices of corporations such as SHELL, Lufthansa and KLM, Gazprom, Fortis, E.on, BMW and Volvo at the 6th European Business Summit (EBS)