The German Presidency in the Council of the European Union is coming closer (due to start on 1 July 2020). foodwatch has written a formal letter to the German Permanent Representative, Michael Clauss asking for clarification on a couple of issues which should be on their agenda.
On 6th May the Council has a deadline to give a detailed opinion to the European Ombudsman on how they plan to deal with the issue of corporate sponsorship during the Presidencies. In documents obtained we see that “many delegations supported the possibility to issue guidance on sponsorship.” However some delegations stressed that “such guidance should be general and of a non-binding nature and that any decision in this regard should belong to each Presidency, based on a case-by-case assessment.”
Stop the dubious practice of corporate sponsorship
This is not good enough – the Ombudsman has been clear that “the Presidency is part of the Council, and must operate in a neutral and impartial manner.” They added in their recommendation of 6/1/20 “When the Presidency organises a meeting or another activity, whether in Brussels or in its home Member State, the wider European public is bound to perceive this activity as linked to the Council and the EU as a whole.” Anything else, according to the Ombudsman, constitutes maladministration.
We see from documents obtained from a Council Working Group of 31/1/20 that Germany has already “concluded some smaller local business sponsorship contracts aiming to promote regional interests, supporting informal regional events.” Our question to Mr Clauss is – why doesn’t the German Presidency simply procure the goods and services it needs from the local business and get the issue of corporate sponsorship of our public institutions regulated once and for all?
Asking for a meeting
Our letter also raises again the question of the introduction of a harmonised and mandatory nutritional labelling (Nutri-Score) on all packaged and processed foods, as mentioned in draft versions of the Farm to Fork Strategy due out on 29 April.
We are asking for a personal meeting or a video call to discuss these two issues. The dubious practice of corporate sponsorship of political institutions has to finally come to an end and the foodwatch will continue to push for Nutri-Score to be mandatory across the EU.