The leak this week of 1,240,000 confidential documents from the Uber company by Guardian and of International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) have once again highlighted the enormous political influence that large companies have over the European Commission and the governments of the member states of the European Union (EU). Uber, with its aggressive policy of making employment more precarious and promoting regulatory changes to destroy its competitors and achieve a monopolistic position, is a significant case. But it is only the tip of the iceberg, more visible now due to the leak.
Other multiple examples are the repeated complaints made for a decade by the EU Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, due to the excessive influence of the main companies of the different sectors in the elaboration of European legislation and regulations to the detriment of citizens. O’Reilly has also filed numerous formal complaints about serious conflicts of interest in the European Commission and its agencies, the endemic lack of transparency and the persistent revolving doors used by commissioners and senior officials in the Commission and European agencies to join companies whose sectors they have been making decisions about.
Messages with Pfizer
Just this week, the EU Ombudsman has harshly criticized the “maladministration” to the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, due to the suppression of the texts of the messages exchanged with the President of Pfizer, related to the purchase of vaccines for covid and the lobbying activities of the North American multinational, violating EU transparency rules. When the German Parliament launched an official investigation in 2019 into Von der Leyen’s management as Defense Minister (2013-2019), accused of mismanagement and hand-picking lucrative contracts to external consultants, the compromising data from the official mobile phone of her as minister were illegally removed.
O’Reilly warned last May of the serious damage to reputation and credibility of the European Commission and EU agencies that causes the frequent practice of commissioners and senior officials joining private companies in the sectors they have regulated or vice versa. This practice is not limited to the EU, but also affects national governments. The current president of the National Commission of Markets and Competition of Spain, Cani Fernández, was the lawyer who defended the interests of Uber before the Court of Justice of the EU and from her new key position she continues promoting decisions favorable to Uber.
Even the scientific community denounces the biased decisions in favor of companies made by EU agencies against the health of citizens, as in the case of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) with the herbicide glyphosate (endocrine disruptor and carcinogenic), marketed under the brand name round-up. EFSA bases its favorable reports on Monsanto datadisdaining the reports on its toxicitydespite the manipulation of the data by the manufacturer revealed in the ‘Monsanto Papers’, which the North American justice forced to make public. Monsanto and Bayer, its current owner, are accumulating judgments with multimillion-dollar compensation for cancer caused for its herbicide in the US.
In 2009, the study A Captive Commission revealed that the European financial legislation had been drawn up based on the proposals of expert groups, in which 96% of the members belonged to the main operators in the sector. The accelerated procedure of passing the legislation deprived the EU Council of Ministers and the European Parliament of scrutiny and control over the key technical details, which were defined and adopted by technocratic committees.
another report, The Corporate Capture of Europeshowed in 2019 how the main companies in each sector continue to define European and national legislation in their fields to the detriment of the citizen, from energy to defense, through banking and medicines.
In the case of Uber, the role played by former commissioner Neelie Kroes, the then minister and now French president, Emmanuel Macron, and the Dutch government, is revealing. supplying the tax avoidance scheme and hindering access to company data.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.