Below my open letter to the new commissioner, Baroness Catherine Ashton.
Or as downloaded at: Ashton_openletter_HOLM.doc
Strasbourg, October 22, 2008
Open letter to the newly appointed trade commissioner, Baroness Catherine Ashton
Business Europe Out of Charlemagne Now!
Baroness Ashton, welcome to your new position as EU Trade Commissioner. I am hopeful that we will be able to collaborate successfully, especially on environmental and global justice issues.
During the autumn of 2006 your predecessor, Peter Mandelson, presented the strategy document Global Europe. Many of us were surprised at the excessive demands for deregulation of trade and the opening of global markets to European companies. Global Europe, seen as the Lisbon strategy’s external dimension, was shaped by the Commission’s staff in close cooperation with European big business and their lobbying organization in Brussels, Business Europe.
The EU is fond of speaking about the conditions and priorities of poor countries. But actions speak louder than words. The EU’s current trade policy is clearly contrary to sustainable development, and stresses the commercial interests of big business over the fight against poverty and for fair trade rules. A significant part of the reason for this is the presence of Business Europe and its influence on the setting of the Union’s trade policies.
The intimate relationship between the Directorate-General for Trade and Business Europe has long been a cause for concern. But the fact that the collaboration has now advanced and been made more concrete is more than a little worrying. It is, in fact, very distressing that Business Europe is organizing the conference ”Going Global” on October 28 in the Commission’s own premises in Brussels, with the participation of several commissioners, for the purpose of evaluating Global Europe. This sends dangerous signals to the citizens of Europe at a time when the Union’s legitimacy is already questioned by many with diverse perspectives.
This can hardly be in line with the impartiality that is meant to be the natural character of the Commission. Baroness Ashton, you have a golden opportunity to correct the situation. I strongly encourage you to:
1. Treat Business Europe as the lobbying organization that it is.
2. Remove Business Europe from your premises at the Charlemagne building. They can afford to rent an office on the local property market.
3. Join the fight against poverty and for sustainable development through closer cooperation with developing countries and aid organizations in Europe.
With best regards,
Jens Holm, member of the Trade Committee, European Parliament