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How lobbyists captured the EU Qatargate is merely the tip of the iceberg

President Ursula. (JEAN-FRANCOIS BADIAS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

President Ursula. (JEAN-FRANCOIS BADIAS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)


December 19, 2022   5 mins

Addressing a recent European Parliament debate on “human rights in the context of the World Cup”, vice-president Eva Kaili had an unexpected message: “Qatar is a frontrunner in labour rights.” So, perhaps we shouldn’t have been surprised when, last week, she was among six people arrested by Belgian police amid allegations of Qatari corruption and money laundering .

Members of the EU establishment have been quick to spin the issue as a problem limited to a few bad apples. Several European Parliament officials told Politico the allegations were limited to a “few individuals” who had gone astray. Others, however, expect more names to be drawn into the widening dragnet. But whether or not the scandal extends to other people is beside the point. By focusing on “Qatargate”, we risk losing sight of the fact that the scandal is a symptom of a much deeper and more widespread malaise, involving not just the European Parliament but all EU institutions. Bribery and corruption are endemic to the Brussels system — and most of it is perfectly legal.

It is estimated that there are more than 30,000 lobbyists working in Brussels, making it the second capital of lobbying in the world after Washington, DC. Most are in the service of corporations and their lobby groups, with huge sums at their disposal: the combined lobbying budget of the 12,400 companies and organisations on the EU lobby register has grown steadily over the years — especially since the pandemic — and today amounts to €1.8 billion.

Topping the list are Big Tech, Big Pharma and Big Energy giants such as Apple, Google, Meta, Bayer and Shell, as well as industry associations such as the European Chemical Industry Council, the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), and BusinessEurope — all of which declare annual lobbying budgets of €4-6 million. The true figure is likely to be significantly higher, given the long history of businesses under-reporting their spending.

Big Pharma and Big Tech, in particular, both significantly boosted their lobbying firepower throughout the pandemic. EFPIA alone — which represents Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson — increased its spending by 20% in 2020. A conservative estimate of total annual EU lobby spending by Big Pharma is now close to €40 million per year, with nearly 300 lobbyists officially working in Brussels to push the industry’s interests (though the actual number is probably higher, since disclosure rules do not capture all the spending on law firms, academic partnerships and activities in individual countries).

It’s safe to say the investment was amply repaid: by the end of 2021, the EU had signed €71 billion worth of confidential contracts, securing up to 4.6 billion doses of vaccines (more than ten doses for each European citizen). EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen negotiated its biggest deal yet with Pfizer — for up to 1.8 billion doses, worth up to €35 billion if fully exercised — via a series of text messages with the company’s chief. The European Public Prosecutor’s Office has opened an investigation into the matter.

Such extreme cases, however, mask the true extent of the structural problem that pervades every aspect of the Brussels system. It goes without saying that this army of well-funded lobbyists, which far outnumbers and outspends public interest groups, gives corporations a massive influence over the European decision-making and legislative process. Lobbyists in the EU also have privileged access to decision-makers: the biggest companies and lobby organisations hold hundreds of meetings with the European Commission every year. Between December 2019 and May 2022, for example, the von der Leyen Commission engaged in a staggering number of 500 meetings with representatives and lobbyists of the oil, gas and coal companies — close to one meeting every working day.

Since the start of the war, the arms industry has also (very successfully) ramped up its lobbying efforts, using the resulting uncertainty to whitewash its image and position itself as an essential partner that can provide the necessary tools to ensure security. In the days following Putin’s invasion, the German arms lobby group BDSV even went as far as asking the EU to “recognise the defence industry as a positive contribution to social sustainability”.

Meanwhile, corporate lobbyists across the board now dominate membership of the Commission’s many advisory groups. Unsurprisingly, this influence can easily result in biased advice. Research by watchdog groups has revealed that 75% of lobby meetings of Commissioners and high-level Commission officials are with lobbyists representing big business. In key areas such as financial regulation, digital services, the internal market and international trade policy, this figure rises to over 80%. This is particularly worrying if we consider that a very large portion of the laws adopted by national parliaments — on issues ranging from food security to the working conditions of truck drivers — are decided at the EU level and then simply transposed into national law by national parliaments.

To make things worse, despite the existence of a lobby register, there is relatively little oversight over the whole process. Indeed, the requirement for lobbyists to sign up to the bloc’s Transparency Register only became mandatory last year. Until then, the entire system functioned on a voluntary basis, which naturally led to massive under-reporting of lobbying activities. This placed the EU well below the standards of liberal democracies such as the United States, and even of several member states.

Yet even now, several loopholes remain. While high-ranking Commission officials and the European Parliament’s committee chairs and rapporteurs who draft legislative proposals are required to log and disclose their meetings with stakeholders, regular MEPs — who actually vote on the proposals — and lower-tier staff, such as assistants from the Parliament and the Commission, are only encouraged to do so. The European Parliament, as Alberto Alemanno, EU Law professor at HEC Paris, has noted, “is the only institution that basically has virtually no rules imposed on their representatives and very weak enforcement of those ethical rules”.

Moreover, the EU register only requires an annual update, and does not provide meaningful information about lobbying on specific laws and policy issues, making it hard to track lobbying activities. And then there is the infamous Brussels “revolving door”, which allows Commissioners, MEPs and EU officials to go straight into lobby jobs when they leave office — such as Commission President Barroso’s recent move to Goldman Sachs and Commissioner and Neelie Kroes’s switch to Uber and Bank of America. The door also swings the other way: the current executive director of the European Medicines Agency, Emer Cooke, previously worked for the EFPIA, Europe’s largest pharmaceutical lobbying organisation.

Pro-EU reformers say these problems can be resolved with institutional tinkering, such as extending the requirement to disclose their meetings with lobbyists to all EU officials, introducing stricter codes of conduct, and setting up an ethics committee overseeing all EU institutions. Some claim the problem is the opaque nature of the EU’s legislative process, which makes it practically impossible not only for citizens but even for national parliaments “to scrutinise how their national representatives have acted”, as Emily O’Reilly, the official European Ombudsman, admitted. Others argue that the solution is to “democratise the EU” by strengthening the European Parliament.

But all these proposals miss the point: the EU, by virtue of its supranational and technocratic nature, is structurally prone to capture by vested interests, be they foreign governments or multinational corporations — and no amount of reform will change that. The problem of lobbying exists at the national level as well, of course. However, this is hugely exacerbated at the supranational level. As the researchers Lorenzo Del Savio and Matteo Mameli write: “International loci are in general physically, psychologically, and linguistically more distant from ordinary people than national ones are. This distance means more room for oligarchic capture.” It is telling in this respect that most Europeans have no idea who the President of the European Parliament is.

In this sense, the problem of EU corruption, rather than being a bug in the system, should be seen as an inherent consequence of the supranationalisation of politics. Making the EU “more democratic” won’t change the fact that the lack of a European demos represents an insurmountable obstacle to the creation of a European democracy, even if Brussels was interested in going in that direction (which it isn’t). The number of corrupt officials involved in the amateurish Qatargate scandal is of little importance; for the EU, it is already too late.


Thomas Fazi is an UnHerd columnist and translator. His latest book is The Covid Consensus, co-authored with Toby Green.

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Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago

Excellent article. The EU is an undemocratic shit show.

Richard North
RN
Richard North
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

I don’t think the fact that lobbying and bribery exist elsewhere undermines the points being made by the authors of the article and the comment you replied to.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Unherd’s mission statement:
“As you may have guessed from our strange spelling, UnHerd aims to do two things: to push back against the herd mentality with new and bold thinking, and to provide a platform for otherwise unheard ideas, people and places.”
So it makes no claim to be a “forum for objectivity”. And nor should it.
I agree (if you meant to say that) that inviting Russian “businessmen” to stay in the UK in such large numbers was never a good idea. You never raise standards (in this case on corruption) by lowering them.
The fact that you can readily cite all those reports isn’t necessarily evidence that things are the same or worse in the UK. It’s certainly arguable that the press holds politicians to a higher standard in the UK than elsewhere in Europe and that you see more such reports as a result. But neither is a press report evidence. At least we have functional courts with authority to act.
And unlike in the EU and much of Europe (I give you Beruslconi, Chirac, Sarkozy, et al), our highest officials do not enjoy immunity from prosecution (incidentally, a privilege that EU officials may still enjoy in the UK after Brexit – and an utter disgrace if it is still the case).

Andrew Fisher
AF
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

You haven’t chosen particularly good examples. None of the individuals you mention were EU or national officials, but national politicians. Both Berlusconi and Chirac in fact were actually prosecuted, though it is true that French Presidents at least have immunity during their time in office.

There may however be some wider cultural validity in what you say, in that British politicians are given notably less respect and held to account to a greater extent by their own MPs, the public and the media, though not by any particularly strong independent institutions.

There will always I suppose be tensions between the idea of (unelected) judges ruling against politicians who have significant electoral mandates, as we saw with Boris Johnson. He, whatever else you think about him, was cavalier about following rules and had a very tangential relationship with the truth. It was a robust political process which finally removed him from power rather than a legal one.

Andrew Fisher
AF
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

You haven’t chosen particularly good examples. None of the individuals you mention were EU or national officials, but national politicians. Both Berlusconi and Chirac in fact were actually prosecuted, though it is true that French Presidents at least have immunity during their time in office.

There may however be some wider cultural validity in what you say, in that British politicians are given notably less respect and held to account to a greater extent by their own MPs, the public and the media, though not by any particularly strong independent institutions.

There will always I suppose be tensions between the idea of (unelected) judges ruling against politicians who have significant electoral mandates, as we saw with Boris Johnson. He, whatever else you think about him, was cavalier about following rules and had a very tangential relationship with the truth. It was a robust political process which finally removed him from power rather than a legal one.

Liam F
LF
Liam F
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

as was pointed out in the article – corruption exists at the national level too-. But is always far worse at supranational level due to no oversight at all.
(no matter how many links you cut n paste)

Last edited 1 year ago by Liam F
William Foster
WF
William Foster
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Thomas’ article is over the target as usual. My personal favourite writer for Unherd.
Frank is right however, other than the whataboutism that appears to have distracted from the point he is trying to illustrate. Just because the EU is the focus of this article does not mean that it is suggested that similar does not happen in almost ever country across the globe. If someone did not comment such then that would be a real cause for concern. Especially since Covid where those few pesky non-complying leaders met unfortunate circumstances. Our nations are politically rotten to the core. We voted to leave the EU so we are significantly closer to being able to deal with the issue, in-theory. EU, UK, US, ANY, the establishment needs to go and not just at the top. There can be no other conclusion, all can only be either compromised, complicit or brain-dead.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  William Foster

‘There can be no other conclusion’. A great example of being open to evidence and argument there! Who ‘removes this ill-defined establishment’? A bunch of self-appointed revolutionaries? Do the voters have any say?

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  William Foster

‘There can be no other conclusion’. A great example of being open to evidence and argument there! Who ‘removes this ill-defined establishment’? A bunch of self-appointed revolutionaries? Do the voters have any say?

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Whataboutery. Take it somewhere relevent.

Oh, right, I forgot – whataboutery is never relevant.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Whataboutery is routinely employed by commentators on all sides on this forum and many others. Certainly as soon as any aspect of, say, post-Brexit Britain is criticised there are a host of dyspeptic comments railing against the EU! So, I hope you are consistent in your objections to !

Morally, it is indeed sometimes very pertinent to address the ‘beam in your own eye’ before that of the ‘mote in the eyes of others’. On the more grubby scale of politics and current affairs, a comparison with other polities is not unreasonable, as long as this isn’t used as a get out clause. I have no love for the EU, but even Fazi said that lobbying spend is less than in the US.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew Fisher
John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

I would have thought it obvious that something isn’t whataboutery if it is actually the subject of the discussion. Brexit is unavoidably about the EU.

John Riordan
JR
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

I would have thought it obvious that something isn’t whataboutery if it is actually the subject of the discussion. Brexit is unavoidably about the EU.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Whataboutery is routinely employed by commentators on all sides on this forum and many others. Certainly as soon as any aspect of, say, post-Brexit Britain is criticised there are a host of dyspeptic comments railing against the EU! So, I hope you are consistent in your objections to !

Morally, it is indeed sometimes very pertinent to address the ‘beam in your own eye’ before that of the ‘mote in the eyes of others’. On the more grubby scale of politics and current affairs, a comparison with other polities is not unreasonable, as long as this isn’t used as a get out clause. I have no love for the EU, but even Fazi said that lobbying spend is less than in the US.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew Fisher
Richard North
RN
Richard North
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

I don’t think the fact that lobbying and bribery exist elsewhere undermines the points being made by the authors of the article and the comment you replied to.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Unherd’s mission statement:
“As you may have guessed from our strange spelling, UnHerd aims to do two things: to push back against the herd mentality with new and bold thinking, and to provide a platform for otherwise unheard ideas, people and places.”
So it makes no claim to be a “forum for objectivity”. And nor should it.
I agree (if you meant to say that) that inviting Russian “businessmen” to stay in the UK in such large numbers was never a good idea. You never raise standards (in this case on corruption) by lowering them.
The fact that you can readily cite all those reports isn’t necessarily evidence that things are the same or worse in the UK. It’s certainly arguable that the press holds politicians to a higher standard in the UK than elsewhere in Europe and that you see more such reports as a result. But neither is a press report evidence. At least we have functional courts with authority to act.
And unlike in the EU and much of Europe (I give you Beruslconi, Chirac, Sarkozy, et al), our highest officials do not enjoy immunity from prosecution (incidentally, a privilege that EU officials may still enjoy in the UK after Brexit – and an utter disgrace if it is still the case).

Liam F
LF
Liam F
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

as was pointed out in the article – corruption exists at the national level too-. But is always far worse at supranational level due to no oversight at all.
(no matter how many links you cut n paste)

Last edited 1 year ago by Liam F
William Foster
William Foster
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Thomas’ article is over the target as usual. My personal favourite writer for Unherd.
Frank is right however, other than the whataboutism that appears to have distracted from the point he is trying to illustrate. Just because the EU is the focus of this article does not mean that it is suggested that similar does not happen in almost ever country across the globe. If someone did not comment such then that would be a real cause for concern. Especially since Covid where those few pesky non-complying leaders met unfortunate circumstances. Our nations are politically rotten to the core. We voted to leave the EU so we are significantly closer to being able to deal with the issue, in-theory. EU, UK, US, ANY, the establishment needs to go and not just at the top. There can be no other conclusion, all can only be either compromised, complicit or brain-dead.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Whataboutery. Take it somewhere relevent.

Oh, right, I forgot – whataboutery is never relevant.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
Jim Veenbaas
JV
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago

Excellent article. The EU is an undemocratic shit show.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago

A honeypot will always attract flies. That’s why political power needs to be dispersed, not concentrated into the hands of smaller and smaller elites. The Swiss have always understood this. Why do the rest of us find it so hard to grasp?

Nothing that can be done by a parish council should be done by a county council and nothing that can be done by a county council should be done by a national government.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

… and nothing at all should be done by supranational government.

Andrew D
Andrew D
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Indeed, it’s called subsidiarity – a word the EU uses quite a lot, apparently without irony

Damian Grant
Damian Grant
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew D

As an coincidental aside, Andrew, it’s a central part of Catholic Social Teaching (CST)…..subsidiarity….and something, I believe that the so-called ‘Blue’ side of Labour point to (e.g. John Cruddas)……

Damian Grant
Damian Grant
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew D

As an coincidental aside, Andrew, it’s a central part of Catholic Social Teaching (CST)…..subsidiarity….and something, I believe that the so-called ‘Blue’ side of Labour point to (e.g. John Cruddas)……

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

The Roman Empire in the time of Trajan (early 2nd century) seems to have managed to run on one ‘senior civil servant’* per 500K head of population.

Somewhat later however, Tang China (626-907 AD) an Empire of similar size and complexity could only manage one ‘senior civil servant’ (the Mandarin class) per 15K head of population.

We have much to learn from the ‘Ancients’.

(*Rejoicing in such titles as: Legatus, Proconsul, Quaestor, and Procurator.)

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

That’s a brilliant observation.
Sadly, Britain which used to have a very dispersed governance system is going the wrong way, and fast. And after a certain degree of centralisation, reversing it will be impossible.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

… and nothing at all should be done by supranational government.

Andrew D
AD
Andrew D
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Indeed, it’s called subsidiarity – a word the EU uses quite a lot, apparently without irony

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

The Roman Empire in the time of Trajan (early 2nd century) seems to have managed to run on one ‘senior civil servant’* per 500K head of population.

Somewhat later however, Tang China (626-907 AD) an Empire of similar size and complexity could only manage one ‘senior civil servant’ (the Mandarin class) per 15K head of population.

We have much to learn from the ‘Ancients’.

(*Rejoicing in such titles as: Legatus, Proconsul, Quaestor, and Procurator.)

Samir Iker
SI
Samir Iker
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

That’s a brilliant observation.
Sadly, Britain which used to have a very dispersed governance system is going the wrong way, and fast. And after a certain degree of centralisation, reversing it will be impossible.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago

A honeypot will always attract flies. That’s why political power needs to be dispersed, not concentrated into the hands of smaller and smaller elites. The Swiss have always understood this. Why do the rest of us find it so hard to grasp?

Nothing that can be done by a parish council should be done by a county council and nothing that can be done by a county council should be done by a national government.

Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
1 year ago

A bug? I’m sorry. I thought supranational and technocratic bureaucracies being put above the wishes of the citizens of the member states was a feature. You mean such a system also easily lends itself to corruption? Say it isn’t so!

Last edited 1 year ago by Matt Hindman
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

I hesitate to say this but the MP’s expenses scandal seems to show that the political representatives in this country do have some virtue and possibly that the attitude towards corruption in UK is a lot less tolerant than it is in other counties.
My limited experience of business in the EU other European counties is that corruption is common and even prevalent

William Foster
William Foster
1 year ago

I hesitate to say this but the MP’s expenses scandal seems to show that the political representatives in this country do have some virtue and possibly that the attitude towards corruption in UK is a lot less tolerant than it is in other counties.

Please tell me this is a joke that has gone over my head. Bread and circuses, hold the bread. I’d say the soon forgotten bags of cash handed to our now head of state say otherwise.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  William Foster

No I was not joking.
First, when the expenses system was bought in I remember MPs being instructed, in effect, that they could not have a pay rise but they would be compensated by means of the new expenses policy that they could treat as an expense account. many of those who were castigated an even prosecuted were castigated and prosecuted for doing just that.
Second, most of it was at the level of duck houses and claim the most of a hotel’s porn channel which is really de minus particularly compared to what goes on in other countries.
Third, most MPs did not exploit the expenses system in order bolster what, in in international terms, is a paltry salary despite being invited to do so.

William Foster
WF
William Foster
1 year ago

You’re confusing the information you are fed with reality. We have scandal after scandal, ‘mistake’ after ‘mistake’. Occasionally a few people get their wrists slapped. No accountability has been enforced. No deterrent made. As you point out, the salary for the roles is not sufficient for the responsibilities (less than NHS diversity officer). The question you should ask is why the remuneration package has not changed (other than the pantomime increases) and why so many are still so keen to become MPs. Instead of continuing to work as investment bankers etc..

Last edited 1 year ago by William Foster
William Foster
WF
William Foster
1 year ago

You’re confusing the information you are fed with reality. We have scandal after scandal, ‘mistake’ after ‘mistake’. Occasionally a few people get their wrists slapped. No accountability has been enforced. No deterrent made. As you point out, the salary for the roles is not sufficient for the responsibilities (less than NHS diversity officer). The question you should ask is why the remuneration package has not changed (other than the pantomime increases) and why so many are still so keen to become MPs. Instead of continuing to work as investment bankers etc..

Last edited 1 year ago by William Foster
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
ER
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  William Foster

No I was not joking.
First, when the expenses system was bought in I remember MPs being instructed, in effect, that they could not have a pay rise but they would be compensated by means of the new expenses policy that they could treat as an expense account. many of those who were castigated an even prosecuted were castigated and prosecuted for doing just that.
Second, most of it was at the level of duck houses and claim the most of a hotel’s porn channel which is really de minus particularly compared to what goes on in other countries.
Third, most MPs did not exploit the expenses system in order bolster what, in in international terms, is a paltry salary despite being invited to do so.

William Foster
WF
William Foster
1 year ago

I hesitate to say this but the MP’s expenses scandal seems to show that the political representatives in this country do have some virtue and possibly that the attitude towards corruption in UK is a lot less tolerant than it is in other counties.

Please tell me this is a joke that has gone over my head. Bread and circuses, hold the bread. I’d say the soon forgotten bags of cash handed to our now head of state say otherwise.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

I hesitate to say this but the MP’s expenses scandal seems to show that the political representatives in this country do have some virtue and possibly that the attitude towards corruption in UK is a lot less tolerant than it is in other counties.
My limited experience of business in the EU other European counties is that corruption is common and even prevalent

Matt Hindman
MH
Matt Hindman
1 year ago

A bug? I’m sorry. I thought supranational and technocratic bureaucracies being put above the wishes of the citizens of the member states was a feature. You mean such a system also easily lends itself to corruption? Say it isn’t so!

Last edited 1 year ago by Matt Hindman
Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
1 year ago

I am shocked, shocked to find that corruption is going on in here.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
1 year ago

Jokes aside, there are certain stuff in this article that are shocking. The bit about those text messages with Pfizer, and the shamelessness of the officials involved (imagine if Trump behaved like that) is still astounding.

rue boileau
rue boileau
1 year ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

The bit about the text messages was widely reported months ago.

rue boileau
rue boileau
1 year ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

The bit about the text messages was widely reported months ago.

Ian Stewart
IS
Ian Stewart
1 year ago

I hear bears shit in the woods too.

Mark Gourley
Mark Gourley
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

And rumours have it the Pope is a Catholic.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

You can take a man from the Gorbals but NEVER take the Gorbals from the man!*

QED.

(*Old English proverb.)

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 year ago

Hmm, true, second generation gorbals emigrant.

Doug Pingel
DP
Doug Pingel
1 year ago

Also available using “Army” or “Navy”.

Ian Stewart
IS
Ian Stewart
1 year ago

Hmm, true, second generation gorbals emigrant.

Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
1 year ago

Also available using “Army” or “Navy”.

Mark Gourley
Mark Gourley
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

And rumours have it the Pope is a Catholic.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

You can take a man from the Gorbals but NEVER take the Gorbals from the man!*

QED.

(*Old English proverb.)

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
1 year ago

Jokes aside, there are certain stuff in this article that are shocking. The bit about those text messages with Pfizer, and the shamelessness of the officials involved (imagine if Trump behaved like that) is still astounding.

Ian Stewart
IS
Ian Stewart
1 year ago

I hear bears shit in the woods too.

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
1 year ago

I am shocked, shocked to find that corruption is going on in here.

Paddy Taylor
PT
Paddy Taylor
1 year ago

The EU, at its core, is a group of corporate bureaucrats in Brussels working as de facto agents of big banks and transnational businesses – with lobbyists pushing the agenda of the businesses they shill for, and paying for the sybaritic lifestyles enjoyed by those inside the machine.
Neoliberal policies (set within a protectionist framework) dominate the European Commission, European Parliament, European Central Bank, European Court of Justice. The commission – who sets such policy – operate with no transparency and under no democratic mandate. And the ECJ is there to give the whole rotten enterprise an air of legitimacy.
Of all the misconceptions that bounce around in the heads of committed remainers, the idea that the ECJ defends “Worker’s Rights” is the most misguided. Membership of the EU in no way guarantees any such workers rights. In fact the very opposite is true. Even such rights that a member state has enshrined in their own laws are subject to ECJ interpretation, and the ECJ has long form in valuing corporate interests over workers rights.
Show me an ECJ judgement, any judgement under EU law, that defended workers against the management? Or, show me when EU law sided with consumers against the corporation?
You might find one or two small cases if you really looked hard, but look for judgements that found in favour of the corporation against the unions, against the workers, and you’d be inundated.
By far the biggest power brokers when it comes to regulatory legislation within the EU are large multinational corporate interests. The regulatory framework is designed with them in mind, raising barriers to entry for start-ups and stifling competition. They have spent many years and countless millions creating this framework to be in their favour. That is never a good deal for the consumer or for the workforce.
The common denominator amongst the majority of commissioners and senior power brokers within the EU is that they moved to Brussels having lost an election in their own country, or having failed to secure the leadership of their own party, or were put forward as their country’s representative having exhausted their political usefulness at home. So, in this Eutopian Govt, that supposedly stands as a bastion of democracy, they have contrived a supra-national structure that is not merely undemocratic but actively anti-democratic – all at the behest of lobbyists and corporate interests.
It is only at the point in these politicians’ careers when they have been expressly rejected by their electorate, or outlived their relevance, that they are invited to come and legislate for the plebs of Europe – without ever having to appeal to an electorate again. Neil Kinnock – rejected by voters at every turn, a man who even contrived to lose to the Tories at the (previous) height of their unpopularity, made a very comfortable living for himself in Brussels. Indeed his entire family – wife, son, daughter-in-law and daughter – all got their noses deep into the euro-trough, a trough filled to the brim by the lobbyists for corporate interests who expect – and receive – preferential treatment as a return on their “investment”.
No wonder so many of these British EU-beneficiaries fought so hard to keep the UK tied to this land flowing with milk and honey – and, for them and their ilk, Gravy.

Last edited 1 year ago by Paddy Taylor
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Did any one notice how much better dressed Kinnock became once he became a Commissioner?

CHARLES STANHOPE
CS
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

Let’s face it that wasn’t very difficult!

Last edited 1 year ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
Stoater D
Stoater D
1 year ago

Of course, he has more cash to splash.
That is what the EU is all about.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

Let’s face it that wasn’t very difficult!

Last edited 1 year ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
Stoater D
Stoater D
1 year ago

Of course, he has more cash to splash.
That is what the EU is all about.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Very well said. It’s very noticable how the largest 50 companies in Europe are so little changed over the last 50 years. Unlike in the US. Almost as if the EU is protecting the vested interests of big businesses whilst it claims it is “protecting jobs” and “worker’s rights”. They may be winning the PR war here, but they’re losing the economic one.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

The way Irish Politicians of all Parties have ‘plundered’ the EU is one the best examples. A simply gravure performance!

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
ER
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Did any one notice how much better dressed Kinnock became once he became a Commissioner?

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Very well said. It’s very noticable how the largest 50 companies in Europe are so little changed over the last 50 years. Unlike in the US. Almost as if the EU is protecting the vested interests of big businesses whilst it claims it is “protecting jobs” and “worker’s rights”. They may be winning the PR war here, but they’re losing the economic one.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

The way Irish Politicians of all Parties have ‘plundered’ the EU is one the best examples. A simply gravure performance!

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
1 year ago

The EU, at its core, is a group of corporate bureaucrats in Brussels working as de facto agents of big banks and transnational businesses – with lobbyists pushing the agenda of the businesses they shill for, and paying for the sybaritic lifestyles enjoyed by those inside the machine.
Neoliberal policies (set within a protectionist framework) dominate the European Commission, European Parliament, European Central Bank, European Court of Justice. The commission – who sets such policy – operate with no transparency and under no democratic mandate. And the ECJ is there to give the whole rotten enterprise an air of legitimacy.
Of all the misconceptions that bounce around in the heads of committed remainers, the idea that the ECJ defends “Worker’s Rights” is the most misguided. Membership of the EU in no way guarantees any such workers rights. In fact the very opposite is true. Even such rights that a member state has enshrined in their own laws are subject to ECJ interpretation, and the ECJ has long form in valuing corporate interests over workers rights.
Show me an ECJ judgement, any judgement under EU law, that defended workers against the management? Or, show me when EU law sided with consumers against the corporation?
You might find one or two small cases if you really looked hard, but look for judgements that found in favour of the corporation against the unions, against the workers, and you’d be inundated.
By far the biggest power brokers when it comes to regulatory legislation within the EU are large multinational corporate interests. The regulatory framework is designed with them in mind, raising barriers to entry for start-ups and stifling competition. They have spent many years and countless millions creating this framework to be in their favour. That is never a good deal for the consumer or for the workforce.
The common denominator amongst the majority of commissioners and senior power brokers within the EU is that they moved to Brussels having lost an election in their own country, or having failed to secure the leadership of their own party, or were put forward as their country’s representative having exhausted their political usefulness at home. So, in this Eutopian Govt, that supposedly stands as a bastion of democracy, they have contrived a supra-national structure that is not merely undemocratic but actively anti-democratic – all at the behest of lobbyists and corporate interests.
It is only at the point in these politicians’ careers when they have been expressly rejected by their electorate, or outlived their relevance, that they are invited to come and legislate for the plebs of Europe – without ever having to appeal to an electorate again. Neil Kinnock – rejected by voters at every turn, a man who even contrived to lose to the Tories at the (previous) height of their unpopularity, made a very comfortable living for himself in Brussels. Indeed his entire family – wife, son, daughter-in-law and daughter – all got their noses deep into the euro-trough, a trough filled to the brim by the lobbyists for corporate interests who expect – and receive – preferential treatment as a return on their “investment”.
No wonder so many of these British EU-beneficiaries fought so hard to keep the UK tied to this land flowing with milk and honey – and, for them and their ilk, Gravy.

Last edited 1 year ago by Paddy Taylor
Malcolm Webb
MW
Malcolm Webb
1 year ago

The EU is run by the Commission – made up of a bunch of failed national politicians – which originates all legislation and has an appetite to deliver this by Regulation, rather than Directive, so as to avoid national legislatures having any say or power on implementation . No wonder every lobbyist worth their salt looks to influence of “inform” the Commission.

The EU Parliament is a talking shop with few powers except to delay or obstruct and therefore it comes as no surprise that the name of its President is not on all of our lips.

Bribery and other such corrupt practices of course are not to be tolerated and should be stamped on but most lobbying is not corrupt and if you think massive lobbying is not also coming from likes of Greenpeace, WWF, Trade Unions etc etc you are kidding yourself.

Business has a duty to inform legislators of the facts – sadly, neither in this Country nor the EU, can the civil servants be relied upon as a source of knowledge and understanding of the industries in which the politicians like to constantly meddle – often to detriment of us all.( see last U.K. Budget).

Closing down the business lobbyists would give the Unions, NGOs , single focus pressure groups and their like, a free and uncontested role – and what an awful outcome that would be.

Peter B
PB
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  Malcolm Webb

Good points. There has to be a way for individuals, groups, companies and industry assiociations to make sure their concerns are at least understood. The critical points here are:
a) whether this is done openly, with the interests declared in public
b) whether there is equality of access and influence for all parties, regardless of size and budget
The EU, as a relatively young organisation, had the opportunity to design a system that would meet those concerns. It looks like they failed to do so.
In these situations, we all queue up to blame the lobbyists (or bankers with financial crashes). The reality is that they have to play the cards they’re given and the regulators are the ones we need to question. I’m not keen on lobbyists and the massive industry that comes with them, but they’re probably a necessary evil in a free society. And the more transparent we make the lobbying, the fewer we should need.
The other side to this – as Malcom notes – is that if we had first rate administrators in the EU (as appears to be the case in Singapore) who really understood the industries they were meddling in, there would be far less need for “help” from lobbyists.
The problems really are of the EU’s own making. And likely unfixable in practice as the EU seems never to learn or reform – it seems almost immune to failure or feedback.

Peter B
PB
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  Malcolm Webb

Good points. There has to be a way for individuals, groups, companies and industry assiociations to make sure their concerns are at least understood. The critical points here are:
a) whether this is done openly, with the interests declared in public
b) whether there is equality of access and influence for all parties, regardless of size and budget
The EU, as a relatively young organisation, had the opportunity to design a system that would meet those concerns. It looks like they failed to do so.
In these situations, we all queue up to blame the lobbyists (or bankers with financial crashes). The reality is that they have to play the cards they’re given and the regulators are the ones we need to question. I’m not keen on lobbyists and the massive industry that comes with them, but they’re probably a necessary evil in a free society. And the more transparent we make the lobbying, the fewer we should need.
The other side to this – as Malcom notes – is that if we had first rate administrators in the EU (as appears to be the case in Singapore) who really understood the industries they were meddling in, there would be far less need for “help” from lobbyists.
The problems really are of the EU’s own making. And likely unfixable in practice as the EU seems never to learn or reform – it seems almost immune to failure or feedback.

Malcolm Webb
Malcolm Webb
1 year ago

The EU is run by the Commission – made up of a bunch of failed national politicians – which originates all legislation and has an appetite to deliver this by Regulation, rather than Directive, so as to avoid national legislatures having any say or power on implementation . No wonder every lobbyist worth their salt looks to influence of “inform” the Commission.

The EU Parliament is a talking shop with few powers except to delay or obstruct and therefore it comes as no surprise that the name of its President is not on all of our lips.

Bribery and other such corrupt practices of course are not to be tolerated and should be stamped on but most lobbying is not corrupt and if you think massive lobbying is not also coming from likes of Greenpeace, WWF, Trade Unions etc etc you are kidding yourself.

Business has a duty to inform legislators of the facts – sadly, neither in this Country nor the EU, can the civil servants be relied upon as a source of knowledge and understanding of the industries in which the politicians like to constantly meddle – often to detriment of us all.( see last U.K. Budget).

Closing down the business lobbyists would give the Unions, NGOs , single focus pressure groups and their like, a free and uncontested role – and what an awful outcome that would be.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
1 year ago

Yet there are still some people who think Brexit was a mistake.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago

..and now they are a majority, not just of the know-all elites, but of the general population. Perhaps because they understand nuance – that to find corruption in the EU does not mean there is none, or better, in the UK. It rather looks as though this government is using Brexit to lower standards, for example water pollution.

Stoater D
Stoater D
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Only in your head.

Stoater D
SD
Stoater D
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Only in your head.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago

..and now they are a majority, not just of the know-all elites, but of the general population. Perhaps because they understand nuance – that to find corruption in the EU does not mean there is none, or better, in the UK. It rather looks as though this government is using Brexit to lower standards, for example water pollution.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
1 year ago

Yet there are still some people who think Brexit was a mistake.

Jonas Moze
JM
Jonas Moze
1 year ago

I would tell a story:

As the flood waters rose and Noah’s Arc floated, the people remaining stood in the water and as it got to their knees they held their children on their hips, and as it rose to their waist they put their children on their shoulders, and when it got to their necks they put their children under themselves, to stand on. These were what man had become, and so God had sent the flood to start again.

Haha – Exactly how the covid policy worked. Schools closed, children masked, isolated, vaxed with an experimental gene therapy that carried known risks, lifetime harms – and why? They did not suffer from covid. The word sent out was to save granny, haha… and the teachers, and their parents…

Or maybe….. The EU, lobbyists are not pure at heart…

”by the end of 2021, the EU had signed €71 Billion worth of contracts, securing up to 4.6 billion doses of vaccines (more than ten doses for each European citizen). EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen negotiated its biggest deal yet with Pfizer — for up to 1.8 billion doses, worth up to €35 billion if fully exercised”

haha, maybe this is why

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonas Moze

Only € 71 billion!!
By comparative analysis with the UK’s projected £39 billion on ‘Track & Trace’ that appears rather feeble!

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
1 year ago

Come on, Charles, this is not worthy of you. You know this is nonsense and your use of the word “projected” doesn’t absolve you.
https://fullfact.org/health/test-and-trace-37-billion/

CHARLES STANHOPE
CS
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

Mea culpa, guilty as charged!

CHARLES STANHOPE
CS
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

Mea culpa, guilty as charged!

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
1 year ago

Come on, Charles, this is not worthy of you. You know this is nonsense and your use of the word “projected” doesn’t absolve you.
https://fullfact.org/health/test-and-trace-37-billion/

Billy Bob
BB
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonas Moze

I’m confused by your comment. What has corruption in the EU or the response to the pandemic got to do with a genocidal God drowning people?

Mike Michaels
MM
Mike Michaels
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

We sacrificed the children to save Granny and protect teachers. Which part did you struggle to understand?

James Kirk
James Kirk
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Michaels

Adults can have more children if they survive. Children couldn’t run the Ark, or teach. Nature at its purest and harshest.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Michaels

I struggle to understand how that ties into the story of the ark, when God simply drowned everybody old and young

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Surely you don’t mean the same God that some people think should be worshipped? (Can’t wait for someone to come along and ‘explain’ that it was all our fault!)

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

It’s a warning against the excesses of human pride.

Jonas Moze
Jonas Moze
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Ok, lets have a new analogy, since the adults destroying their children to get to breath a wile longer does not work for you as a cautionary tale.

Lets take if the Titanic disaster had been managed by the ones who managed covid.

The speakers would blast – OLD AND FEEBLE TO THE LIFEBOATS.

Everyone else can sink or swim – because it is societies first duty to keep the old and feeble alive another 6 months, even if it destroys many of the youth. was the policy. Entire generation had education wrecked to potentially allow those virtually on deaths door another short wile. You know loss of education = more poverty, and poverty = shorter lifespans and all manner of social pathologies – and we intentionally did this to the children with the excuse of saving granny….

try this DeSantis Joe Ladipo video on it all for fun

https://rumble.com/v20n6e4-covid-19-mrna-vaccine-accountability-roundtable-with-facebook-comments.html

B Emery
BE
B Emery
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonas Moze

Why do we need dramatic comparisons to bible stories with drowning children or sinking titanics?
I still see no parallels.
You’ve skipped a fair bit of time between the ark and the titanic. Are they the only boat related stories you know?
I don’t think I met any parents on the school playground last week that would stand on their children to save themselves from drowning.
You have just picked two very random references for dramatic effect, if you want to be taken seriously you can’t start throwing Bible stories and titanics around as a comparison to covid guidance and legislation.
We were told lockdowns were also perpetuated to prevent hospitals and services being overwhelmed, not just to save old people. So you might want to weave that into your next ‘analogy’. Haha
Marvell 2.0?

Last edited 1 year ago by B Emery
B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonas Moze

Why do we need dramatic comparisons to bible stories with drowning children or sinking titanics?
I still see no parallels.
You’ve skipped a fair bit of time between the ark and the titanic. Are they the only boat related stories you know?
I don’t think I met any parents on the school playground last week that would stand on their children to save themselves from drowning.
You have just picked two very random references for dramatic effect, if you want to be taken seriously you can’t start throwing Bible stories and titanics around as a comparison to covid guidance and legislation.
We were told lockdowns were also perpetuated to prevent hospitals and services being overwhelmed, not just to save old people. So you might want to weave that into your next ‘analogy’. Haha
Marvell 2.0?

Last edited 1 year ago by B Emery
Steve Murray
LL
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Surely you don’t mean the same God that some people think should be worshipped? (Can’t wait for someone to come along and ‘explain’ that it was all our fault!)

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

It’s a warning against the excesses of human pride.

Jonas Moze
JM
Jonas Moze
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Ok, lets have a new analogy, since the adults destroying their children to get to breath a wile longer does not work for you as a cautionary tale.

Lets take if the Titanic disaster had been managed by the ones who managed covid.

The speakers would blast – OLD AND FEEBLE TO THE LIFEBOATS.

Everyone else can sink or swim – because it is societies first duty to keep the old and feeble alive another 6 months, even if it destroys many of the youth. was the policy. Entire generation had education wrecked to potentially allow those virtually on deaths door another short wile. You know loss of education = more poverty, and poverty = shorter lifespans and all manner of social pathologies – and we intentionally did this to the children with the excuse of saving granny….

try this DeSantis Joe Ladipo video on it all for fun

https://rumble.com/v20n6e4-covid-19-mrna-vaccine-accountability-roundtable-with-facebook-comments.html

James Kirk
JK
James Kirk
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Michaels

Adults can have more children if they survive. Children couldn’t run the Ark, or teach. Nature at its purest and harshest.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Michaels

I struggle to understand how that ties into the story of the ark, when God simply drowned everybody old and young

Mike Michaels
MM
Mike Michaels
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

We sacrificed the children to save Granny and protect teachers. Which part did you struggle to understand?

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonas Moze

Only € 71 billion!!
By comparative analysis with the UK’s projected £39 billion on ‘Track & Trace’ that appears rather feeble!

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonas Moze

I’m confused by your comment. What has corruption in the EU or the response to the pandemic got to do with a genocidal God drowning people?

Jonas Moze
JM
Jonas Moze
1 year ago

I would tell a story:

As the flood waters rose and Noah’s Arc floated, the people remaining stood in the water and as it got to their knees they held their children on their hips, and as it rose to their waist they put their children on their shoulders, and when it got to their necks they put their children under themselves, to stand on. These were what man had become, and so God had sent the flood to start again.

Haha – Exactly how the covid policy worked. Schools closed, children masked, isolated, vaxed with an experimental gene therapy that carried known risks, lifetime harms – and why? They did not suffer from covid. The word sent out was to save granny, haha… and the teachers, and their parents…

Or maybe….. The EU, lobbyists are not pure at heart…

”by the end of 2021, the EU had signed €71 Billion worth of contracts, securing up to 4.6 billion doses of vaccines (more than ten doses for each European citizen). EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen negotiated its biggest deal yet with Pfizer — for up to 1.8 billion doses, worth up to €35 billion if fully exercised”

haha, maybe this is why

Jack Tarr
Jack Tarr
1 year ago

For democratic regimes (this definition obviously excludes the EU and its puppet states), lobbying should be converted from a profession into a criminal offence, on a par with more orthodox forms of corruption.
The definition of criminal lobbying would be along the lines of:
Seeking to alter the course of public policy by private access to government ministers, members of parliament and/or the civil service and local government.
There would be nothing to stop industry bodies or other interested parties from public campaigning, putting adverts in newspapers, etc., provided that there was no difference between the public material and anything sent to politicians or civil servants (sunlight is an effective disinfectant).

Lukas Nel
Lukas Nel
1 year ago
Reply to  Jack Tarr

Right and where would you suppose politicians would get the copious amounts of money necessary for campaigning under any system?

michael harris
michael harris
1 year ago
Reply to  Lukas Nel

They should campaign using small, fixed, legislated amounts of money. Any surplus spending to be proof of corruption. Their security, while campaigning, should be the job of the state, not private bodies.

michael harris
michael harris
1 year ago
Reply to  Lukas Nel

They should campaign using small, fixed, legislated amounts of money. Any surplus spending to be proof of corruption. Their security, while campaigning, should be the job of the state, not private bodies.

Frank McCusker
FM
Frank McCusker
1 year ago
Reply to  Jack Tarr

Lobbying is widespread in the UK – are you really so poorly informed as your comment appears to suggest?

Stoater D
Stoater D
1 year ago
Reply to  Jack Tarr

Your final paragraph decscribes what lobbying is.
It is not inherently corrupt.

Lukas Nel
Lukas Nel
1 year ago
Reply to  Jack Tarr

Right and where would you suppose politicians would get the copious amounts of money necessary for campaigning under any system?

Frank McCusker
FM
Frank McCusker
1 year ago
Reply to  Jack Tarr

Lobbying is widespread in the UK – are you really so poorly informed as your comment appears to suggest?

Stoater D
Stoater D
1 year ago
Reply to  Jack Tarr

Your final paragraph decscribes what lobbying is.
It is not inherently corrupt.

Jack Tarr
JT
Jack Tarr
1 year ago

For democratic regimes (this definition obviously excludes the EU and its puppet states), lobbying should be converted from a profession into a criminal offence, on a par with more orthodox forms of corruption.
The definition of criminal lobbying would be along the lines of:
Seeking to alter the course of public policy by private access to government ministers, members of parliament and/or the civil service and local government.
There would be nothing to stop industry bodies or other interested parties from public campaigning, putting adverts in newspapers, etc., provided that there was no difference between the public material and anything sent to politicians or civil servants (sunlight is an effective disinfectant).

Saul D
Saul D
1 year ago

While corporate lobbying is insidious, there is also a ton of NGO and pressure group lobbying that takes place – eg the green lobbying over nuclear power within the European energy mix.
The power and role of all the lobby groups means we get directives created without a popular mandate, that are driven by interested parties rather than public need. It’s why Europe has an energy crisis, or why paperwork and edicts about data protection have strangled sensible privacy rules, and how we got things like the olive-oil refillable bottle ban.
In the EU, individual politicians have minimal ties to an electorate (they get places on lists decided by party barons, or allocated by government), and policies are created using EU civil servants and special interest groups that have barely any connection to the priorities of public opinion. And because policy is legalistic, pedantic and conducted in multiple languages away from the public eye, it will always be technocratic in outlook and manipulable to the agendas of interested parties.

Saul D
SD
Saul D
1 year ago

While corporate lobbying is insidious, there is also a ton of NGO and pressure group lobbying that takes place – eg the green lobbying over nuclear power within the European energy mix.
The power and role of all the lobby groups means we get directives created without a popular mandate, that are driven by interested parties rather than public need. It’s why Europe has an energy crisis, or why paperwork and edicts about data protection have strangled sensible privacy rules, and how we got things like the olive-oil refillable bottle ban.
In the EU, individual politicians have minimal ties to an electorate (they get places on lists decided by party barons, or allocated by government), and policies are created using EU civil servants and special interest groups that have barely any connection to the priorities of public opinion. And because policy is legalistic, pedantic and conducted in multiple languages away from the public eye, it will always be technocratic in outlook and manipulable to the agendas of interested parties.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago

But I thought this discussion about the corruption built into lobbying was all conspiracy theory?

Lesley van Reenen
LV
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago

But I thought this discussion about the corruption built into lobbying was all conspiracy theory?

Edward De Beukelaer
Edward De Beukelaer
1 year ago

The real problem is wider than the EU or any other entity: since the end of WW2 all decisions relating to feeding (farming), health and housing have been based on quick solutions proposed by an industry that only needs to justify its actions to its shareholders. (At that time there was a shortage of many things of course…) But this has lead to a way how we (modern western society) all see things through these industrial quick solution developments/paradigm/economic systems.
There is a tiny slow change where people realise that modern medicine saves lives but creates chronic illness, that farming produces cheap food (but causes illness of the consumers, farms, farmers and the land) that housing was not made for people to live, …. and new small projects are doing well, localism may not be so bad…
As long as ‘we’ keep buying the products of the ‘big corporations’ (I don’t blame ‘we’ because these products (food, medicine, housing) are quite convenient) we shall keep the post war system going.
We can write as many as the above articles as we want and be indignant about it but ‘we’ are all funding this lobby….

Jane Ingram
Jane Ingram
1 year ago

Great comment, spot on.

Jane Ingram
Jane Ingram
1 year ago

Great comment, spot on.

Edward De Beukelaer
Edward De Beukelaer
1 year ago

The real problem is wider than the EU or any other entity: since the end of WW2 all decisions relating to feeding (farming), health and housing have been based on quick solutions proposed by an industry that only needs to justify its actions to its shareholders. (At that time there was a shortage of many things of course…) But this has lead to a way how we (modern western society) all see things through these industrial quick solution developments/paradigm/economic systems.
There is a tiny slow change where people realise that modern medicine saves lives but creates chronic illness, that farming produces cheap food (but causes illness of the consumers, farms, farmers and the land) that housing was not made for people to live, …. and new small projects are doing well, localism may not be so bad…
As long as ‘we’ keep buying the products of the ‘big corporations’ (I don’t blame ‘we’ because these products (food, medicine, housing) are quite convenient) we shall keep the post war system going.
We can write as many as the above articles as we want and be indignant about it but ‘we’ are all funding this lobby….

John Dewhirst
John Dewhirst
1 year ago

If you walk around Luxembourg or Strasbourg the stench of cronyism and grubbing from the pot is patently obvious. Thereagain, plenty of SNP pet projects and patronage in Scotland.

John Dewhirst
John Dewhirst
1 year ago

If you walk around Luxembourg or Strasbourg the stench of cronyism and grubbing from the pot is patently obvious. Thereagain, plenty of SNP pet projects and patronage in Scotland.

Mr Bellisarius
Mr Bellisarius
1 year ago

It was more than 20 years ago that BA left the Airbus consortium due to there being too much ‘political influence’.
Strange deals and arrangements are the hallmark of EU activity. Did any ever think this was not due to the lobby?

Mr Bellisarius
MB
Mr Bellisarius
1 year ago

It was more than 20 years ago that BA left the Airbus consortium due to there being too much ‘political influence’.
Strange deals and arrangements are the hallmark of EU activity. Did any ever think this was not due to the lobby?

Allison Barrows
AB
Allison Barrows
1 year ago

Mr. Fazi, the United States was created as a representative republic, not a “liberal democracy”. Of course, now it is neither, as our federal government, like the EU, is captured by all those Bigs on an even greater scale, and that’s just the way Washington likes it.

Allison Barrows
AB
Allison Barrows
1 year ago

Mr. Fazi, the United States was created as a representative republic, not a “liberal democracy”. Of course, now it is neither, as our federal government, like the EU, is captured by all those Bigs on an even greater scale, and that’s just the way Washington likes it.

Graff von Frankenheim
Graff von Frankenheim
1 year ago

Two reforms might have some impact: firstly, block the revolving door both ways but in case of MEPS and Commissioners include all their staff members above a certain policy making level and secondly have a financial inspectorate (independent of all EU institutions but with full powers of arrest and forced entry) perform an unannounced dawn raid on all of them twice per year for a full financial audit (private residences, offices and those of their next of kin). If they fail the audit twice they’re out. Because of the first rule, that means….end of career.

Graff von Frankenheim
GV
Graff von Frankenheim
1 year ago

Two reforms might have some impact: firstly, block the revolving door both ways but in case of MEPS and Commissioners include all their staff members above a certain policy making level and secondly have a financial inspectorate (independent of all EU institutions but with full powers of arrest and forced entry) perform an unannounced dawn raid on all of them twice per year for a full financial audit (private residences, offices and those of their next of kin). If they fail the audit twice they’re out. Because of the first rule, that means….end of career.

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago

‘for example, the von der Leyen Commission engaged in a staggering number of 500 meetings with representatives and lobbyists of the oil, gas and coal companies — close to one meeting every working day’
‘In the days following Putin’s invasion, the German arms lobby group BDSV even went as far as asking the EU to “recognise the defence industry as a positive contribution to social sustainability”’
Goldman sachs, Bank of America, big pharma, say no more.
Some of the stuff in here is next level.
I feel it pretty much sums up what is wrong with Western politics now.
I agree with the conclusion – already too late. This level of corruption both in the EU and America (UK too has its problems here) – this is how stuff starts falling apart, how wider conflicts start, how oil will turn to monopolising hydrogen, how enormous crashes happen. Corruption rotting the system. What’s the answer though, we have come to rely on big oil, big pharma, big banks, multinational mega corps, tearing the existing governments down doesn’t get rid of these interests or their enormous budgets. We are in a right pickle now.

Last edited 1 year ago by B Emery
B Emery
BE
B Emery
1 year ago

‘for example, the von der Leyen Commission engaged in a staggering number of 500 meetings with representatives and lobbyists of the oil, gas and coal companies — close to one meeting every working day’
‘In the days following Putin’s invasion, the German arms lobby group BDSV even went as far as asking the EU to “recognise the defence industry as a positive contribution to social sustainability”’
Goldman sachs, Bank of America, big pharma, say no more.
Some of the stuff in here is next level.
I feel it pretty much sums up what is wrong with Western politics now.
I agree with the conclusion – already too late. This level of corruption both in the EU and America (UK too has its problems here) – this is how stuff starts falling apart, how wider conflicts start, how oil will turn to monopolising hydrogen, how enormous crashes happen. Corruption rotting the system. What’s the answer though, we have come to rely on big oil, big pharma, big banks, multinational mega corps, tearing the existing governments down doesn’t get rid of these interests or their enormous budgets. We are in a right pickle now.

Last edited 1 year ago by B Emery
Jon Hawksley
Jon Hawksley
1 year ago

It would be interesting to see a side by side comparison on the returns for corporate lobbying in the EU and US. In particular their success at preventing standards being set that are costly to the corporations.

Jon Hawksley
Jon Hawksley
1 year ago

It would be interesting to see a side by side comparison on the returns for corporate lobbying in the EU and US. In particular their success at preventing standards being set that are costly to the corporations.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
1 year ago

I am reminded of the story “The Snowball Effect”, by Katherine Maclean. This indicates how organizations are designed by quirks in their nature, from time of creation, to either shrink or grow, without reference to the needs they were founded to serve. This is the EU, a grower organization.https://ia903101.us.archive.org/13/items/thesnowballeffec50766gut/50766.txt

Samuel Ross
SR
Samuel Ross
1 year ago

I am reminded of the story “The Snowball Effect”, by Katherine Maclean. This indicates how organizations are designed by quirks in their nature, from time of creation, to either shrink or grow, without reference to the needs they were founded to serve. This is the EU, a grower organization.https://ia903101.us.archive.org/13/items/thesnowballeffec50766gut/50766.txt

James Kirk
JK
James Kirk
1 year ago

You’re on a low 5 figure salary. You are offered a 6 figure salary on the understanding you might just look the other way periodically.
Cast the first stone, Mother.

James Kirk
James Kirk
1 year ago

You’re on a low 5 figure salary. You are offered a 6 figure salary on the understanding you might just look the other way periodically.
Cast the first stone, Mother.

AC Harper
AC Harper
1 year ago

I’ve argued before that the EU is a new Hanseatic League, formed to protect the trade of big business across member states and those nearby.
It is hardly surprising that big businesses compete through lobbying to gain or maintain their position at the trough.

AC Harper
AC Harper
1 year ago

I’ve argued before that the EU is a new Hanseatic League, formed to protect the trade of big business across member states and those nearby.
It is hardly surprising that big businesses compete through lobbying to gain or maintain their position at the trough.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
1 year ago

As an outsider (American) I always assumed that a major purpose of the EU was to avoid the pesky expectations of fairness, correctness, good government, etc. The original idea was to create a government that is emphatically not “of the people, by the people, for the people”, and thus to avoid having to pretend that they’re doing anything other than enriching the oligarchs.
For most of human history that was the singular purpose of government. The revolutions of the 1770s, 80s and 90s are seen as an abberation in need of correction.

laurence scaduto
LS
laurence scaduto
1 year ago

As an outsider (American) I always assumed that a major purpose of the EU was to avoid the pesky expectations of fairness, correctness, good government, etc. The original idea was to create a government that is emphatically not “of the people, by the people, for the people”, and thus to avoid having to pretend that they’re doing anything other than enriching the oligarchs.
For most of human history that was the singular purpose of government. The revolutions of the 1770s, 80s and 90s are seen as an abberation in need of correction.

j watson
JW
j watson
1 year ago

Four points
Firstly the fact we can turn this spotlight on the institution reflects the benefit of plurality and the illumination benefit. The EU itself is recognising it has to do more to tackle this. A free press must continue this scrutiny.
Secondly the lobbying does reflect the importance of the EU internationally in how standards and regulations are set.  That concentration has some advantage but some disadvantage too.
Thirdly those of us in the UK should perhaps ask ourselves some similar questions about our own Parliament and esp the House of Lords – 800 unelected members, an ever-increasing number of donors to political parties who essentially have ‘bought’ their influence and ermine etc. The EU, thankfully, has nothing of equivalence. (And having lost c£14b+ on poor governance during Pandemic we aren’t in a great position to criticise)
And finally the author recognises the pressure on institutions from external parties is not unique or likely to cease, but he’s vague on solutions. As my third point notes, the idea national institutions do much better is not that clear-cut. It’s a governance issue we all have to grapple with.

Peter B
PB
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

All good points. But I’m in little doubt in practice that the larger the institution and the more remote from those it purports to represent, the more chronic the problem becomes. You are quite right to put the EU and House of Lords in the same bucket here – over-staffed, appointed (anyone in the EU with executive power), no way to remove them.
The EU is a bureaucracy at heart and not a government. Like all bureaucracies, however noble their aims, after a while they come to serve and protect themselves. We’ll see a lot of damage limitation activity after the current scandal, but I’m less confident about reform. When corrupt EU officials start going to jail and repay what they’ve taken, I’ll start considering they might be serious about reform.
Say what you like about UK government, but we can at least get rid of misfits and incompetents. As seen earlier this year !

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Yep something in these all points PB.
The bit I’d probably debate is ‘EU just a bureaucracy’. There is this danger for sure, and it does need to do more about it’s democratic legitimacy in the eyes of the public. But in fact it has some significant democratic controls – the EU parliament, the Council of Ministers appointed by the elected Govts who appoint the Executive officers (The US Executive officers, President and VP aside, are appointed rather than elected) and of course a series of national veto’s. But the problem has undoubtedly been much of this is too complicated and too far away for many to fully understand, even more in the UK where we spent 25yrs rubbishing rather than explaining.
I wonder who’ll send someone to jail first for similar forms of corruption? The EU or the UK? Now that would be a beneficial head to head. I suspect the EU may feel this is more of a test case that it has to meet than we do ourselves right now but would like to be proved wrong

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Yep something in these all points PB.
The bit I’d probably debate is ‘EU just a bureaucracy’. There is this danger for sure, and it does need to do more about it’s democratic legitimacy in the eyes of the public. But in fact it has some significant democratic controls – the EU parliament, the Council of Ministers appointed by the elected Govts who appoint the Executive officers (The US Executive officers, President and VP aside, are appointed rather than elected) and of course a series of national veto’s. But the problem has undoubtedly been much of this is too complicated and too far away for many to fully understand, even more in the UK where we spent 25yrs rubbishing rather than explaining.
I wonder who’ll send someone to jail first for similar forms of corruption? The EU or the UK? Now that would be a beneficial head to head. I suspect the EU may feel this is more of a test case that it has to meet than we do ourselves right now but would like to be proved wrong

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

All good points. But I’m in little doubt in practice that the larger the institution and the more remote from those it purports to represent, the more chronic the problem becomes. You are quite right to put the EU and House of Lords in the same bucket here – over-staffed, appointed (anyone in the EU with executive power), no way to remove them.
The EU is a bureaucracy at heart and not a government. Like all bureaucracies, however noble their aims, after a while they come to serve and protect themselves. We’ll see a lot of damage limitation activity after the current scandal, but I’m less confident about reform. When corrupt EU officials start going to jail and repay what they’ve taken, I’ll start considering they might be serious about reform.
Say what you like about UK government, but we can at least get rid of misfits and incompetents. As seen earlier this year !

j watson
JW
j watson
1 year ago

Four points
Firstly the fact we can turn this spotlight on the institution reflects the benefit of plurality and the illumination benefit. The EU itself is recognising it has to do more to tackle this. A free press must continue this scrutiny.
Secondly the lobbying does reflect the importance of the EU internationally in how standards and regulations are set.  That concentration has some advantage but some disadvantage too.
Thirdly those of us in the UK should perhaps ask ourselves some similar questions about our own Parliament and esp the House of Lords – 800 unelected members, an ever-increasing number of donors to political parties who essentially have ‘bought’ their influence and ermine etc. The EU, thankfully, has nothing of equivalence. (And having lost c£14b+ on poor governance during Pandemic we aren’t in a great position to criticise)
And finally the author recognises the pressure on institutions from external parties is not unique or likely to cease, but he’s vague on solutions. As my third point notes, the idea national institutions do much better is not that clear-cut. It’s a governance issue we all have to grapple with.

Steve White
Steve White
1 year ago

Thinking about this makes everything for the past 3 years make a lot more sense.

Steve White
Steve White
1 year ago

Thinking about this makes everything for the past 3 years make a lot more sense.

Peter Gardner
Peter Gardner
1 year ago

Brilliant article. EU governance is supranational and technocratic, lacking a demos and therefore cannot be democratic. The founding fathers of the European Project realised it could not be democratic and saw that therefore it had to proceed from European Coal and Steel Community incrementally and by stealth.
I am old enough to remember the good old days of rampant British socialism when even the likes of Tony Benn and Peter Shore railed against the anti-democratic nature of the then EEC and agreed with Enoch Powell – yes, the Enoch Powell of ‘rivers of blood’ – that there was no European demos.
In today’s era of identity politics many believe the lack of a demos is easily fixed by self-labelling oneself ‘European’. Yeah, right.
Democratic self-government cannot be extended beyond the nation state.

Peter Gardner
PG
Peter Gardner
1 year ago

Brilliant article. EU governance is supranational and technocratic, lacking a demos and therefore cannot be democratic. The founding fathers of the European Project realised it could not be democratic and saw that therefore it had to proceed from European Coal and Steel Community incrementally and by stealth.
I am old enough to remember the good old days of rampant British socialism when even the likes of Tony Benn and Peter Shore railed against the anti-democratic nature of the then EEC and agreed with Enoch Powell – yes, the Enoch Powell of ‘rivers of blood’ – that there was no European demos.
In today’s era of identity politics many believe the lack of a demos is easily fixed by self-labelling oneself ‘European’. Yeah, right.
Democratic self-government cannot be extended beyond the nation state.

Ciaran Upton
Ciaran Upton
1 year ago

It may surprise you but some of us are enjoying the discomfort of Ms Kaili which would probably not be seen in Athens. I suspect politicians get away with murder in most if not all European capitals and yes I include London therein.

Rachel Taylor
Rachel Taylor
1 year ago

Lobbying (and the resulting institutional capture) and corruption are two different things. The BBC and other political institutions in the UK have been captured by the guardians, but I don’t consider them corrupt. They are openly doing what they advocate.
In the same way the EU is a protectionist organisation for producers, not for consumers. It is doing what it does e.g. Common Agricultural Policy. Whether individuals profit from it corruptly is another matter.

Rachel Taylor
RT
Rachel Taylor
1 year ago

Lobbying (and the resulting institutional capture) and corruption are two different things. The BBC and other political institutions in the UK have been captured by the guardians, but I don’t consider them corrupt. They are openly doing what they advocate.
In the same way the EU is a protectionist organisation for producers, not for consumers. It is doing what it does e.g. Common Agricultural Policy. Whether individuals profit from it corruptly is another matter.

Dominic A
DA
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Frank, when I see an unHerd article on the EU, Trump, or Brexit, or immigration, no matter how balanced, reasonable it is (and they usually are) I’ve learned that the comments will be in the upside down world. UnHerd becomes Bovine World of MAGA and ERG: all sins, bad rhetoric, faults, malfeasance etc can be traced 100% to Remoaners, or Democrats with Trump Delusion Syndrome (although the penny may be dropping for the Trump fans). The solutions are obvious common sense; when their side has won politically, and not delivered, it is because a purity test was failed; if they have failed intellectually/philosophically, it is only because of the rhetorical manipulative corrupt tricks of the others (which of course their side would never do).

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

You’re clearly not reading the same comments I am. There’s a wide range of views – just as there should be.
I’m sure we’re not all “deplorables” !

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

You’re clearly not reading the same comments I am. There’s a wide range of views – just as there should be.
I’m sure we’re not all “deplorables” !

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Frank, when I see an unHerd article on the EU, Trump, or Brexit, or immigration, no matter how balanced, reasonable it is (and they usually are) I’ve learned that the comments will be in the upside down world. UnHerd becomes Bovine World of MAGA and ERG: all sins, bad rhetoric, faults, malfeasance etc can be traced 100% to Remoaners, or Democrats with Trump Delusion Syndrome (although the penny may be dropping for the Trump fans). The solutions are obvious common sense; when their side has won politically, and not delivered, it is because a purity test was failed; if they have failed intellectually/philosophically, it is only because of the rhetorical manipulative corrupt tricks of the others (which of course their side would never do).