Finland, the new president of the Council of the European Union for the next six months, has revealed that it will not bring up the discussion on EU Member States accepting corporate sponsorship to cover costs of their presidencies.
Finland took over from Romania as President of the Council of the European Union on 1 July 2019. This EU institution where national governments meet in their thematic councils rotates every six months between EU Member States. During the first six months of 2019 Romania held the Presidency and revealed on its website that it held premium sponsorship deals with carmakers Renault and Mercedes, and the drinks multinational Coca-Cola. foodwatch sent an open letter to the Romania Prime Minister and Mr. Donald Tusk in February 2019 to draw attention to and strongly criticise that fact that commercial companies are regularly sponsoring the EU Presidencies. As a “platinum sponsor”, Coca-Cola had a prominent position in the Romanian Presidency, and was even described as a “partner”. For the Finnish Presidency, a spokeswoman has announced that the car manufacturer BMW is the single sponsor. foodwatch maintains that it is scandalous that one of the key EU institutions, which has legislative power and leads in EU trade agreements could let a car manufacturer pay for a part of its activities! This behaviour makes a mockery of all promises to build a democratic and citizen-friendly Europe and is perfect bait for EU opponents. foodwatch will continue to campaign against corporate sponsorship of political positions. foodwatch demands an end to this dubious practice and will be keeping a close eye on all future presidencies. In addition, we have an ongoing complaint to the European Ombudsman and are expecting a reaction from the Council of the European Union by mid of September 2019. As foodwatch we stand for a democratic European policy that puts the interests of its citizens first. The blatant lobbying, sponsorship and influence of the industry must stop. Any improper influence of companies on political decision-making, including the appearance of conflict of interest, must be avoided.