foodwatch has joined together with Corporate Europe Observatory, and Climáximo to strongly criticise the ongoing practice of private companies sponsoring EU Council presidencies. The Portuguese EU Council Presidency, led by Prime Minister António Costa, and the EU ambassadors from the 27 member states, have to put in place a clear ban on such sponsorships to ensure that potential conflicts of interest are avoided.
Almost every recent Presidency of the EU has accepted sponsorship from national or multinational companies. The current EU Council Presidency, Portugal, has recently signed sponsorship deals with Sumol + Compal, the distributor of PepsiCo and other soft drinks in Portugal, as well as with The Navigator Company, a paper products company associated with monoculture plantations and forest fires in Portugal.
The dubious practice has to stop!
This is unacceptable. How can EU governments be signing deals with companies whose products are in direct contradiction to the policies that are being developed? The EU Green Deal and Farm to Fork Strategy, the EU Cancer Plan all recognise that what we consume has direct effects on health and the environment – and yet the companies producing sugar-filled soft drinks are being actively promoted by our decision-makers. Other deals in recent years have been with fossil fuel companies, car manufacturers, and Big Tech.
foodwatch and the two other civil society organisations have launched an online petition to stop the dubious practice. Sign here!
Support from the Ombudsman
Last year, a foodwatch complaint to the European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly was a success: she agreed that these deals with companies were a reputational risk to the EU and that guidelines should be put in place.
Six months on, the guidelines are waiting to be discussed and agreed by the 27 member state governments, represented by their Permanent Representatives to the EU. The guidelines currently on the table are however very weak and would not ban the practice, but simply demand greater transparency.
It is simple: The only guideline needed is no sponsorship deals between governments holding the EU Council Presidency and companies.Campaigner at foodwatch
The practice of seeking private sponsors to support the six-month rotating Presidency of the European Union is being watched carefully by civil society. This issue must not be closed until there are rules in place to stop corporations buying influence of our politicians and decision makers.