Press Release 28.01.2020

German government to refrain from controversial corporate sponsorship during German EU Presidency - foodwatch calls for clear sponsorship rules in the EU

  • politics and law

foodwatch: No more contracts with commercial sponsors!

Brussels/Berlin, 28 January 2020: The German government has announced that it will not have corporate sponsorship for the upcoming German EU Council Presidency which will begin in July 2020. This was stated in an answer to a parliamentary question by the Left Party in the Bundestag. "The Federal Government has, in principle, decided not to accept sponsorship for measures within the framework of the EU Council Presidency," it says. foodwatch welcomed the decision and calls on the German Presidency to take this opportunity at the helm of the European Union to put in place clear rules on corporate sponsorship in the European Union. Last year, the international consumer organisation had criticised Coca-Cola's sponsorship of the Romanian EU Council Presidency.

"Not having sponsorship is the only right decision. Now the German government must use the opportunity of the German Council Presidency to create binding rules for corporate sponsorship in Europe," said Thilo Bode, Managing Director of foodwatch International. "We need a strong and citizen-oriented European Union. But when Coca-Cola, BMW and Co. sponsor EU institutions, citizens are questioning the motives of the so-called ‘impartial’ institutions. Even the appearance of a conflict of interest should be avoided as it damages the reputation and credibility of the European Union."

The Presidency of the Council of the European Union rotates every six months among the 28 EU Member States. Germany will take over from July this year. In 2019, foodwatch submitted a complaint to the European Ombudsman's Office about the Romanian Presidency's Coca-Cola sponsorship. In October 2019, the European Parliament also voted by a large majority for guidelines by the Council to promote financial transparency and independence of the EU Council presidencies.

Companies have been sponsoring the EU Council Presidency for years: in 2018, for example, Austria has been sponsored by Audi and the insurance group VIG, Bulgaria by the Association of the Bulgarian Beverage Industry and BMW. Coca-Cola had already supported the Polish Presidency in 2011. Among other things, the group supplied 140,000 litres of beverages for the meetings. At the same time, the EU Food Information Regulation was adopted and an EU-wide mandatory nutritional labelling in traffic light colours was prevented.