Industry makes the world go round
Europe, corporations and globalisation, who's in control?
The new economy
The Chemical Industry
What's wrong with lobbying?
Direct democracy and direct action: a different perspective
Cefics misleading logo
This text exists
also in nederlands, deutsch
and espanol. We are working
on a french version.
This brochure is written as argumentation and background information
of an occupation-action during the EU-summit in Brussels, December
2001. A group of people from various countries occupied the building
of European Chemical Lobby Cefic.
The Toxic Lobby in Brussels
A brochure published
for the occupation of the Cefic, the European lobby organisation
for the chemical industry.
Once again it's
time for another EU Summit. Once again the ministers from a number
of countries come together around the table to discuss 'their' Europe:
a Europe in which the power of economic competition is central.
of people will gather to demonstrate against this policy. Their
demand is that people and the environment is paced at the 'top of
the agenda'. Moreover they also want more real direct democracy
in Europe instead of the untransparent, distant apparatus that one
now sees in Brussels. These engaged people are not content with
the 'concerned' discussions by EU ministers on social policies and
green plans: a radical change in society is necessary.
of the office of Cefic, the lobby group for the European chemical
industry, on 12 December aims to make visible the direct link between
European business and EU policy. In Europe business calls the shots,
and their advice is more than often taken. Our message is that a
socially responsible, and therefore sustainable, society can never
go together with the present neo-liberal economic system which is
based on profit and growth. We look towards a direct democratic
alternative, a democracy in which as far as possible, decisions
are taken on the local level. This increases the engagement and
responsibility of everyone and would include people who now do not
feel represented by the technocratic European Commission and the
abstract European Parliament.
supports the above message. The problems are analysed briefly and
our arguments against the European Union and the chemical lobby
will agree with us, and you will get involved with direct actions
for a better world!
corporations and globalisation, who's in control?
for a globalisation from below finds itself before another summit.
Although we have had some successes and have managed to catch the
attention of the media, we'll always have to keep thinking about
strategies and tactics. Our 'democratic' leaders of government are
engaging in 'dialogue' behind impressive fences and incredible amounts
of the so called defenders of democracy, the police. How can we
break down their legitimacy even more then they are doing it themselves,
by closing themselves off from the public?
the summit is a very strong action, showing that the decisions they
make about our life and our environment are not made in our name.
Yet we cannot always get to the summit, therefore we also have to
see that the summit itself is not the only centre of undemocratic
elitist politics. In Brussels, an enormous amount of industrial
lobby groups are active to push their interests. Lobby groups like
the ERT and the CEFIC have had a determining influence on forming
the Union and its policy. These connections have to be made clear.
The most important goal of our action is to show that behind the
veil, the EU is an undemocratic institution, representing the economic
interests of big business.
Not only our
message, but also the form of our actions is important. Mass demonstrations
are useful and inspiring, but we shouldn't look in the direction
of the politicians and expect them to fulfil our demands. No, we
can take action ourselves and show we do not need them governing
us. Instead of trying to influence established politics, we can
create our own political spaces through the means of direct action.
The European 'leaders' may be surrounded by barbed wire, fences,
water canons, tanks, dogs and a massive police force, but the lobby
groups that have the biggest, harmful influence on EU policy, are
still easy to hinder in their work.
If we undertake
actions against multinational companies, it is important to link
them to our criticism of our political system that allows and supports
their actions for the "common good". It is this system
that in our name wages war, destroys the environment and takes away
possibilities for people to shape their own lives.
What the biggest
and most influential lobby groups have in common is that they all
represent the biggest multinational companies in Europe. These are
companies that put a huge amount of effort in promoting free trade
policies and privatisation, because it lies in their interests to
do so. Their size, knowledge and technical capacity gives them many
advantages. Yet the immense economic power which they posses has
given them an incredible political influence and an ability to force
states into making decisions which ultimately benefit them.
These are the
'heroes' of our new economy. An economy where the corporate market
is penetrating more and more parts of our society. Because of the
amount of corporate products on the market, the brand and the advertising
connected with it, is increasingly important. Almost everywhere
we are surrounded by marketing campaigns trying to convince us to
consume more and more useless products.
companies are often described as 'footloose' whereby they at any
moment can decide to move their production to places with lower
taxes, labour conditions and environmental regulation. Nation states,
as a consequence of trying to please corporations and their lobby
groups, get involved in a race to the bottom to keep them within
In reality companies
are not that mobile. However, companies don't need to make any threats
to be part of the political process. The EU was originally planned
to be a corporate EU with a protected market. Competitive companies
have taken over the lead in the ERT to create an EU based on competitiveness,
Besides the new economy these lobby groups also stand for the breakdown
of democracy through concentration of economic and political power.
Most people weren't even given the opportunity to vote on entering
the EU nor on major policy changes. The EU, largely an economical
project, appears to have little respect for the democratic values
that our European "leaders" so often preach.
To keep the European economy competitive, our environment and society
is changed into a playground for multinational companies. Tons of
asphalt are being put into new roads. The emphasis upon labour market
flexibility subjects the ordinary worker to the demands of the market.
Education and health systems are being forced to become more market
oriented. Refugees are not being judged on fear of prosecution but
more on their use for our labour market.
This trend is only increasing the marginalisation of people. The
need for ever-growing corporate profits and the harsh competition
which are dominant features of our capitalist economic system, undermines
everybody's opportunity to choose and make decisions about their
lives. Even corporate CEO's are bound to the wishes of their shareholders,
who love the sight of another personnel cutback.
The only way can take back power over our lives is by decentralising
and democratising political and economic power.
year's Lisbon Summit was a milestone on the long road towards
neo-liberal restructuring in the EU. Lisbon's 'Jobs Summit'
adopted an action plan to transform the EU into 'the most
competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world'
by 2010. Among the far-reaching measures agreed on in Lisbon
were the liberalisation of energy, transport, telecommunication
and postal services markets as well as neo-liberal reforms
of labour markets and pension systems.
But if Europe has to become the most competitive economy,
this means there should be less competitive areas. This
on competition based system will always have winners but
Corporate Europe Observatory, www.xs4all.nl/~ceo/observer9/stockholm
making a world of difference", proclaims Cefic's somewhat prophetic
message. "It reflects the excitement and value that chemistry
brings to our everyday lives. We have an important role to play
in making the world a better place. It is a serious statement"
(1). Two things throw a particularly dark shadow over this self-appointed
global saviour: the contribution of the chemical industry to a number
of real environmental problems and its extremely lax attitude towards
attempts to effectively tackle these problems. The manner in which
the chemical industry tries to avoid its responsibility is discussed
later. In this section we glance at some sorry situations in the
world of chemicals.
A toxic mix
worldwide use of industrial chemicals has increased considerably
in the past decades. In 1998 the total production of organic chemicals
was 400 million tonnes per year, compared to around 1 million tonnes
in 1930 (2). The biggest producer of chemicals is Europe, which
accounts for one third of the worldwide production. Asia (including
Japan) and the United States account for the other two-thirds (3).
The rapid increase in chemicals production is closely linked to
the economic growth of the 60s and 70s. Thousands of new materials
and products were discovered and brought out onto the market, usually
without much research into the potential damaging effects of all
the chemical substances. In the meantime it has become clear that
a large number of synthetic chemicals are particularly damaging
to the environment and health, yet the chemical industry continues
with the production and distribution of them. They are found in
everyday products such as paints, building materials, clothes, toys,
pesticides, food, packaging, etc. During the production, as well
as in use, and on disposal these products can release damaging substances.
Because of this, synthetic chemicals are ubiquitous in water, food,
the earth, and in living organisms (4). The existing European legislation
dates from the early year of the environmental debate, when the
far-reaching effects of an increasing production and damaging substances
were barely apparent. Environmental protection was then not seriously
integrated into the legislation and hence does nothing to tackle
the problem at the source - by regulating the production and use
lucrative 'processing method' for dangerous waste is its export
to developing countries or the former Eastern Block, under the guise
of re-use or recycling. In many of these countries there are very
few constraining environmental laws, or difficult environmental
organisations. There is also no advanced technology to process the
waste. Untransparent transport routes, loopholes in the legislation
and creative interpretation of the terms 'waste' and 'recycling'
make it problematic to combat this poisonous trade. Such an attempt
was indeed made on the international level with the Basel Convention
which saw the light of day in 1994. This convention should, with
effect from 1998, forbid the export of dangerous waste from the
OECD countries (the world's 24 most industrialised countries) to
the rest of the world - including waste transported for 'recycling'.
Meanwhile the ban still has to be ratified and the industry has
done its lobby work in order to avoid that it will take effect.
The ICC (International Chamber of Commerce) has supported bilateral
accords between countries which could effectively undermine the
ban. Alongside this, the lobby club has pleaded to the WTO (World
Trade Organisation) to lift the ban, because it should disrupt free
AS well as the
export of dangerous waste there is another tendency: the export
of dangerous and polluting technologies to NIC's (Newly Industrialising
Countries) and developing countries. Given that these countries
do not in general have sufficient means for 'clean-up' technologies
such as emission filters, as well as the control over the production
cycle is often missing, this results in particularly unpredictable
situations. (Where does the waste go? Under what conditions are
dangerous products produced and transported? etc). Only the exporter
comes out better off in the final account. This export is immoral
and damaging for people and the environment. In this way the importing
countries are set up to follow a development model whose vices are
already proven. The developed countries avoid having to invest in
real solutions for pollution and in the development of future markets
in the area of ecologically responsible products and technologies.
Union has been working since 1998 on a revision of its chemicals
policies, a process that resulted, in February 2001, in a 'white
paper' on chemicals, put together by the European Commission (6).
Despite the engagement of various interest groups in this revision
process, the final result is an impermissible concession to the
chemical industry, in which the path to a sustainable society is
rejected. (see further explanation of the white paper in the notes
at the end of this article)
scientific studies show that the Earth is slowly getting warmer.
According to the scientists of the IPCC (International Panel on
Climate Change) the average temperature of the Earth's surface will
be 1 to 3.5 degrees Celsius warmer in 2100 than in 1990, if the
present trends continue. The sea level will rise between 15 and
95 centimetres because of the expansion of the oceans and the melting
of the glaciers and ice caps. The effects of this climate change
will be large and will be different from region to region. The same
IPCC scientists say that 'the balance of evidence suggests that
there is a discernible human influence on global climate.' The majority
of the human influence comes from Western industrialised countries.
The developing countries will suffer most from the climate change.
In the 1997
Kyoto protocol it was agreed that the 39 industrialised countries
should by 2010 have reduced their CO2 emissions by 5.2% of their
1990 level. Considering that the IPCC believes that a reduction
of 60 to 90% is necessary for stabilisation, the Kyoto conditions
are, to say the least, disappointing. More painful is that since
1990 greenhouse gas emissions have continued to increase (+10% in
1996 compared to 1990), and that there are few signs of a change
of course in these developments. The chemical industry is not the
only sector responsible for climate change, but we can blame them
for their part of the emissions and even more for their policy to
frustrate the Kyoto protocol and therefore any serious reduction
industry is one of the most outspoken obstructers of measures to
limit greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel use. There are various
reasons for this. Firstly the sector includes the large operators
and processors of fossil fuels such as Shell and BP Amoco. Secondly
the chemical industry makes a considerable contribution to greenhouse
gas emissions. Chemical companies are presently emitting 80% more
CO2 than in 1990. A serious reduction in emissions means a reduction
in chemicals production, rather than the desired expansion. One
can also wonder if there is still place for big chemical firms in
the industrialised west, or whether it is not time to begin a transition
to work opportunities in sustainable sectors. Thirdly, a portion
of the chemical sector is extremely energy intensive. Particularly
because of this energy intensity (for example, about 15% of the
energy delivered in Belgium is used for chemical industry) and because
of its dependence on unsustainable forms of energy, the chemical
industry shrinks from measures which would tax or limit the use
of fossil fuels. It is also a vocal opponent of a European CO2 levy,
a fiscal instrument already used by 8 of the 15 European member
1) Cefic, Our
new identity. The basic elements, s.d., p. 10.
2) EEA (European Environment Agency) and UNEP (United Nations Environment
Programme), Chemicals in Europe, Low Doses, High Stakes? Annual
message 2 on the state of Europe's Environment, 1998.
3) CEFIC, Facts & Figures. The European chemical industry in
a worldwide perspective. 2000 Report, 2000, p. 9.
4) S. Dyekjaer en M. Boye, Chemicals under the spotlight - from
awareness to action, The Danish Ecological Council, 2000, p. 10.
(zie www.ecocouncil.dk of www.chemical-awareness.com).
5) A SEED, Corporate Lobby Groups and the United Nations World Summit
on Sustainable Development. How the ICC and WBCSD greenwash themselves
for Rio+10, 2001, p. 6.
(6) Een witboek bevat een reeks voorstellen voor een bepaald beleidsterrein,
die op ambtelijk niveau zijn uitgewerkt. Een groenboek daarentegen
is slechts een verzameling ideeën die als uitgangspunt moeten
dienen voor besprekingen die uiteindelijk tot een gezamenlijk besluit
moeten leiden. Beide hebben tot doel betrokkenen te informeren,
zodat deze hun mening kunnen geven alvorens een nieuwe wetgevende
procedure wordt ingeleid. W. Weidenfeld, W. Wessels, Europa van
A tot Z.
Since its establishment
in 1972, Cefic (the European Chemical Industry Council) has become
a complex network of over 40,000 national chemical federations,
bigger and smaller chemical companies, thematic lobby groups, and
'senior advisory groups'. Together these affiliated corporations
employ about 2 million people and are responsible for 30% of the
world's chemical production (1). Cefic is an important player in
European policymaking and it is proud to be able to prepare its
members for changes of policy and so reduce the negative influence
of European and other legislation (2). Cefic has a growing influence
at the international level where they use a double strategy: first
they try to block interference by the government and secondly they
promote dubious voluntary initiatives. In their words "Our
objective is to be a reliable representative of the chemical industry
and offer our members the services they need, maximise their benefits
and in doing so, reduce their costs" (3). Although it is sometimes
expressed in terms of prosperity (4) and sustainable development,
the whole structure of the Cefic is focussed on supporting the growth
of the chemical industry, its competitiveness and promoting free
trade. According to Jean-Pierre Tirouflet (president), Cefic has
to take care of three priorities. 'The first concerns the public
perception of the industry.' This is important to get legislation
that is positive for the chemical industry. Cefics second priority
is the 'exchange of information within the industry and a closer
relationship with the European Commission and Parliament'. And the
third is 'to assist the enlargement of of the EU.' The Cefic can
help with issues such as health, safety and the environment (5).
These three priorities will be reviewed here one by one.
Because of some privileges and good contacts with the European policy
makers Cefic increasingly succeeds in influencing the policymaking.
Socially and environmentally sensitive themes are only included
if they do not harm the competitiveness of the chemical industry
(6) and they can be combined with the 'sound principles' of innovation
and sustainable development, and take into account the interests
of all parties.(7). The word 'innovation' is being used completely
for image, influencing policy and maximising profit: every event
which could threaten the image or the freedom of the chemical industry
must be immediately dealt with -- and there are no guarantees that
this will not happen at the cost of people and nature.
Cefic is working at the moment at creating a new identity, of a
successful organisation which meets the desires of its clients:
the members, the industry. The new creative, efficient coordinated
Cefic is directed at better attuning the activities of its members
among themselves, and guaranteeing their future (8). Cefic's position
in the world should be strengthened by means of a 9-point plan.
Cefic tells you beautiful stories about voluntary measures
taken in Europe but European Chemical Companies operate all
over the world. Especially in Developing countries environmental
and safety standards are often much lower. A good example
is the Dutch-English Unilever. Next to a subsidiary company
of Unilever in India that produces thermometers, 7,4 ton mercury-containing
glass was found, located close to a school. (1)
Notwithstanding clear evidence, Unilever's subsidiary company
denies any involvement. The factory is closed now, but cleaning
up the area or compensating the victims is not in question.
This is just an example but it happens more often that Unilever
violates the principles of the Global Compact it signed on
to (see text on greenwashing and global compact). The website
(2) of Unilever is filled with stories about responsible entrepreneurship
and Unilever proudly present the fact that they spent about
50 million Euro a year on 'projects for the benefit of civil
society'. The only but is, that that's about 0,1 % of their
annual turnover and that they spent about 24 times as much
on research and even 120 times as much on PR and marketing.
In spite of the fact that Unilever's opinion is that 'social
responsibility of companies needs to be taken very serious',
their official strategy plan is called 'on the way to growth';
they strive for annual increase of their turnover and a profit
margin of over 16%.
article 'Unilever's Mercury Fever' from Nityanand Jayaraman
on the CorpWAtch
2) Text and figures from Unilever's website Unilever
Something that CEFIC is proud to show off is its Responsible Care
project, operational since 1984. This "voluntary" action
programme of the chemical industry receives lots of attention on
its website. However, concrete results are not mentioned. National
industrial organisations should enact it in their countries. It
concerns eight points, which concern vague things such as the adoption
of a list of principles, a check list, consultation about health,
safety and environment and the use of one logo (9). But what in
actuality has to be improved, and what environmental and social
goals should be attained is not mentioned. It assumes that if companies
just know what they are doing wrong, they will automatically improve
themselves. It is absolutely without obligations and is very vague.
Cefic maintains that these voluntary initiatives are more effective
that legislation (10). In reality, however, the 'action program'
just results in more reports and discussions, and its most important
function is the avoidance of strict legislation and control over
industrial activities (11). In the meantime the chemical industry
can keep doing 'business as usual'. One such case is the Voluntary
Energy Efficiency Programme (VEEP 2005). In this the chemical companies
which are associated to Cefic do their best to improve their energy
efficiency, but because of the desired increase in production, the
energy consumption itself continues to increase.
Britse olieproducent is kampioen greenwashing. In de strijd
tegen klimaat verandering noemt het zichzelf 'Beyond Petroleum'.
BP Amoco veranderde zijn logo in een soort van groene bloem
en het monteert zonnecellen op zijn benzinestations. Ondertussen
wordt er een veelvoud uitgeven aan folders en reclamecampagnes
om deze 'vrijwillige verbeteringen' bekend te maken. En zich
is er niets mis met deze zonnecellen, maar de investeringen
in hernieuwbare energie zijn slechts een schijntje vergeleken
met de winst die wordt gemaakt met de verkoop van fossiele
brandstof. Een voorbeeldje: BP Amoco kreeg een leidende positie
op de markt voor zonne-energie door voor 45 miljoen dollar
Solarex op te kopen, maar ondertussen werd ook voor 25 miljard
uitgegeven aan ARCO om de olie-productie te vergroten. (1)
En ondanks dat BP Amoco's CEO John Brown al in 1997 officieel
erkende dat klimaatverandering een serieus probleem is voor
oliemaatschappijen (2), zoekt men ondertussen onverminderd
door naar nieuwe oliebronnen, ook in zeer kwetsbare gebieden
waar dit problematisch is voor milieu en lokale bewoners.
Beyond Petroleum or Beyond Preposterous' van Kennie Bruno
en 'CorpWatch US Corporate Greenwash Organizing
2) The Earth Times, 19 Mei 1997
The open information exchange within the chemical industry should
enable a better attunement of the respective activities of the companies.
This sort of networking and 'renewal' should improve competitiveness,
and enables the block to present one common vision to the external
world. This further strengthens the active role of Cefic in Europe's
legislative organs. We name some examples of the subjects that Cefic
has concerned itself with. By supporting the TRIPs agreement and
the European Patent Office (EPO) Cefic pleaded for a worldwide working
patent system on all levels, for the promotion - once again - of
competitiveness (12). Cefic has been involved for a long time in
biotech interests dossiers: the lobby group EuropaBio, which merged,
amongst others, Cefic's daughter ESNBA (13), maintains that the
biotech industry will improve European competitiveness, will attract
investment, create work opportunities and "the means to improve
health, nutrition, safety and environmental performance and the
quality of life generally" (14). Cefic strongly pleads for
a further deregulation and liberalisation of the gas and electricity
markets among others. This should result in lower energy prices
15 and more competition. All these points have been put on the agenda
by neo-liberal politicians. Recently Cefic had success with the
EU 'Strategy for a Future Chemical Policy'. This concerns the legislation
for testing and strict conditions for the use of certain damaging
substances. The German daughter of Cefic, VCI, used a strange argument
in an advertisement: the extra tests would lead to a too large flow
of data. Because of this it would be impossible to give customers
information precise information about the safety of the products
(16). On 15 November 2001 the European Parliament passed a severely
Cefic doesn't want any external control. In the framework of the
White Paper (17) they set themselves against every attempt to decentralise
the competition legislation. National governments must not be allowed
to conduct their own politics, and enact their own policies to protect
the environment ("environmental nationalism"). Cefic argues
for the integration of the internal European (free) market and for
the expansion of the European Monetary Union (EMU) and 'an acceptable
degree of legal certainty' (18) (/freedom). Furthermore, they want
their internal information flows remain protected in the interests
of the industry, including in emergencies and legal proceedings
(19). According to Cefic, the responsibility of the industry for
ecological damage should be restricted to 'proven damage', which
can be directly linked to the activities of the enterprise. Damage
to people or possessions due to previous activities must not be
included in charges (20). The legislating structured approach of
risks must be based on the conclusion of "sound science"
and collaboration with the industry. There must be a simple legislation
(with as few as possible exceptions) which restricts itself to the
products destined for the consumer (21). In short, Cefic and its
members, as experts (22), want as little as possible interference
in carrying out their plans. Considering the Kyoto protocol, Cefic
pleads for an implementation of the protocol in such a manner so
as to keep the power of international competition and possibilities
of growth. Emissions trading, 'joint implementation' and 'clean
development mechanisms' are acceptable practices for them because
of their lower costs than decreasing real greenhouse gas emissions.
They primarily support this sort of low-cost long-term agreements
and a project based flexible approach to environmental problems
(23). They push into the far future a global approach to global
environmental problems - which should in any case, according to
them, remain based on voluntary initiatives. Cefic does not attempt
in any way to try to find a way to realise or stimulate such a global
approach. This would not help the competitiveness or public opinion.
Obviously, hushed-up damage is not damage?
Aventis is a huge, dirty transnational corporation with annual
sales of 18 billion euro and around 90,000 employees in 120
countries worldwide. It is the third largest producer of agrochemicals.
It also produces animal feed supplements and genetically modified
(GM) crops. Aventis is most infamous for producing starlink
corn - the GM corn that was only approved for animal feed
in the US but found its way into the human food chain the
world over. Many people claim to have had severe allergic
reactions to starlink contaminated corn - the reason it wasn't
approved for human consumption by the US department of Agriculture
was that allergic reactions were considered a risk.
Aventis signed on to the United Nations Global Compact in
July 2000, promising among other things to support "a
precautionary approach to environmental challenges."
The Starlink contamination fiasco and their subsequent attempts
to have starlink approved for human consumption demonstrate
this to be a lie, perpetrated for PR purposes. Aventis is
also part of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development
and has participated in the Council's Biotechnology Scenario
Project. The objective? "
to articulate a context
for strategy development in biotechnology in light of public
values and issues of sustainable development." - a cynic
might translate the spin as "how to overcome obstructive
public reservations about genetic engineering". They
aim to produce a "set of principles and a framework for
innovation" - that is produce a voluntary code to persuade
governments that legislation is unnecessary. Aventis is co-chairing
The Life Counts project is a book produced by Aventis that
demonstrates their heartfelt commitment to protecting biodiversity.
"For every copy of the book that is sold in the industrialized
countries, Aventis will donate one to schools, libraries,
or institutes in Africa, Asia or Latin America," - all
key growing regions and markets for GM crops. Another greenwash
example; Aventis CropScience sponsors CropGen, an industry
initiative which "will make the case for crop biotechnology
and help achieve a more balanced debate about genetically
modified (GM) crops in the UK." Its PR says: "CropGen
comprises an independent panel of scientists and specialists
on agriculture, plantscience, microbiology, ecology and consumer
affairs. Its aim is to provide information for the public,
interest groups and the media." Reliable?
sources (in fact huge chunks of text):
- Corporate Watch briefing
Global Compact Violator" By Gabriela Flora, Institute
for Agriculture and Trade Policy.
- Globalization, Inc. Concentration in Corporate Power: The
1) Cefic's Artcles
of Association, june 2000.
2) "Cefic's Role" op Cefic's website : www.cefic.org.
3) Cefic 21. A new Cefic to meet tomorrow's challenges, p.4, Alain
Perroy, Director General.
to use and guide the market in the bid to ensure
prosperity", Ken Collins, The future of EU Environment Policy,
September 1997, and "
the fullest possible contribution
to Europe's prosperity, whilst safeguarding the environment.",
Jean-Pierre Tirouflet, President, Our Annual Review 2000, Instilling
Confidence, p. 3.
5) Our Annual Review 2000, Instilling confidence, p. 3.
6) Vgl. Council of Ministers Industry Affairs, 14 nov 1996. In:
Cefic Annual Report, 1996, p. 24.
7) Cefic. Our Annual Review 2000, Sound principles, p. 10.
8) Cefic. Our Annual Review 2000, Building Cefic 21, p. 5, Alain
Perroy, Director General.
9) Cefic website: www.cefic.org
10) Cefic. Our Annual Review 2000, Achieving recognition, p. 12.
11) Joshua Karliner, "The Corporate Planet: Ecology and Politics
in the Age of Globalization", Sierra Club Books, San Francisco,
p.189. source: Corporate Europe Observer, "Cefic: The Toxic
12) Cefic. Our Annual Review, Sound principles, p. 11.
13) Senior Advisory Group on Biotechnology (connected to CEFIC)
en European Secretariat for National Bio industry Associations.
14) Cefic Position Paper, "Patents: Key to Innovation in Europe",
November 1996. Bron : Corporate Europe Observer, "Cefic : The
15) Corporate Europe Observer, "Cefic : The Toxic Lobby",
16) European Voice, 31 october - 7 november 2001
17) Gepubliceerd door de Europese Commissie in 1999, handelt over
de "regels" van internationale competitie.
18) Cefic. Our Annual Review, Sound principles, p. 11.
22) Alain Perroy, Director General, speaks in connection with Cefic
21 about "maximizing expertise" and "demonstrating
organisational excellence" al keywords for its success. A new
Cefic to meet tomorrow's challenges, Maximising expertise, p. 6.
23) Cefic, Post-Kyoto views on climate policies, In conclusion,
wrong with lobbying?
To try to influence the thinking of legislators or other
public officials for or against a specific cause (www.google.com
corporations are responsible for social and environmental problems.
There are problems in the processes of obtaining raw materials (for
example, deforestation, contamination and the displacement of original
inhabitants), in production (poor working environments, emission
of damaging substances, high energy use), in transport (energy use,
encroachment into and disruption of certain areas), in sales (misinforming
customers, putting small competing firms out of business). Firms
have very big financial interests in keeping up 'business as usual'.
For us there are a lot of reasons to choose for, and to fight for,
another form of production and another economy. In this our arguments
are often confronted with the big PR apparatus that the companies
have at their disposal. But what is actually so wrong and dangerous
about these interested parties and their lobbyists? Shouldn't we
be happy with freedom of expression, including for the businesses?
With this action
leaflet we don't want to forbid lobby groups. The problem lies with
the activities of the companies themselves, and with the politicians
and others who listen to the businesses and their lobbyists, and
fall for their tall stories. In order to minimise the influence
of these lobby groups, which must not be underestimated, here we
look critically at a few parts of the lobbying process.
Lobbying begins simply with the supplying of information which is
also sometimes requested. It is perfect for the lobbyist if they
are viewed by the politicians as advisors, rather than interested
parties. Sometimes it just comes down to lobby groups paternalistically
giving out their report figures to various public authorities.
For businesses it is important to know long in advance what could
happen. This makes it possible to participate at the right time,
or to cut undesired developments off in the bud, or to achieve a
desired change before the victims have cottoned on. Therefore it
is necessary to keep track of reports, letters and changes in political
parties, parliaments and governments, at all levels. Further, informal
conversations in the corridors and at dinner are very important
in obtaining timely information. All in all this is a lot of work,
but multinationals and their lobby groups are big enough to be able
to do this.
Image is also very important for businesses. Not only to win customers,
but also to influence public authorities. The expensive advertising
campaigns are often aimed at convincing politicians and other policy
makers that they are dealing with a well-meaning, trustworthy business
or sector. If a company presents itself as environmentally friendly,
but only makes a few cosmetic changes and does nothing to alter
its policies, this is known as 'greenwashing'. Because of relatively
large amount of attention to environmental problems in the past
years, greenwashing has also taken off in this time. More about
this in the next section.
Increasingly often it no longer rests at purely giving advice, but
there are institutionalised links of cooperation, or 'partnerships'
between public authorities and the business sector. In many cases
the big business interest groups were set up these partnerships,
and then continue to actively contribute to them. Officially this
occurs because of the predicted win-win situation: the government
('and therefore the country') and the business sector will both
benefit from it. The real reasons are often money shortages and
increasing powerlessness of the 'rolled-back' state. For businesses
sometimes the partnerships are just a manner to get projects or
orders, but it is also used as a forum to exert influence, firstly
by obtaining more information, and by polishing their own image:
'how could anything be wrong with us if the democratically elected
leadership works with us?'
field is not level
Not only business
lobbies. Environmental NGOs, trade unions, and other interest groups
also try to influence policy. Don't forget the parties either. There
is also a very vague distinction between the honest supplying of
desired information and advice, and conscious lobbying with clear
self-interest. The 'lobby battle' is at the moment so unfair because
of the unequal positions. Business can spend hundreds of millions
on their lobbying and image. They are present at international conferences
with thousands of people and with polished and expensive presentations.
They are there at an EU Summit, a climate summit, or a WTO meeting.
The preparations for the World Summit on Sustainable Development
(Rio+10) show the same thing: business who wants to explain how
the environment must be saved, and what sort of society various
groups of people want to have.
This lobby industry
makes it very obvious what one of the problems is with the free
market economy: it is an unstable system with 'positive feedback'.
The more power you have the easier it is to become more powerful.
Groups without a lot of financial support find it impossible to
find enough time and resources to completely follow the politics,
and to create contacts with everyone. 'And our country's economy
is far too important to be left to poor people who don't know anything?'
Or maybe not...
Thanks to a
somewhat old, but still good article 'An introduction to the covert
world of corporate lobbying' from Corporatewatch
The European Roundtable of Industrialists (ERT) is a club
of 48 'captains of industry' of the largest European TNCs
with privileged access to EU and national decision-makers.
The ERT has been saying for years that 'the interests of European
industry, its customers and the communities in which it operates,
will be best served by promoting competition and competitiveness
on a European scale' (1). This aim seems to be totally adopted
by EU politicians. Moreover the ERT is proud on its direct
involvement in the preparation of the so-called 'Job Summit'
in Lisbon (2). During the last years it has been at the forefront
in promoting industry self-regulation over government-enforceable
mechanisms. The group has also fought any form of CO2 or energy
tax. The ERT mentions some projects where corporations implemented
some improvements. More general statistical results of those
voluntary actions are not available.
But for the ERT this is still not enough. Points on its wish
list which it wants to been seen realised as soon as possible
are: Liberalisation of the energy and transport markets, public
transport, postal services and public pensions system. It
displeases the ERT that there is lack of 'progress' in reshaping
education systems to fit corporate needs (3).
A quote from the ERT from 1997 illusrates their attitude clearly:
"The green groups are creaking with age ... they just
don't recognise that it is a different world, with different
needs. All they succeed in doing is making it more difficult
for industry to take positive action on a voluntary level."
(4) It is one world against the other.
the ERT website
2) See article 'ERT Moves to Next Phase in Europe's 'Double
Revolution' van Corporate Europe Observatory ', Corporate
Europe Observer, Issue 7, October 2000,
3) See CEO artikel 'From Lisbon to Stockholm, The ERT Evaluates
'Progress' in Neoliberal Reforms',
Corporate Europe Observer - Issue 9
4) phone interview with Caroline Walco, ERT, 24 octobre 1997
An important lobby group is the Union of Industrial and Employers'
Confederation (UNICE), the European Employers organization.
They cooperate with the ERT, but their focus on influencing
the European Commission is even stronger. The problem in general
is that the influence of national governments is undermined
and the European Commission has been following the outlined
policy from lobby groups for years. One of the issues UNICE
lobbied for years, together with the ERT, was changing the
policy of the EU to vote about trade-treaties, such as WTO,
unanimously and instead vote with the majority of votes. They
succeeded; this "fast-track" was approved in Nice
Not long ago, UNICE advocated that the EU should not sign
the Kyoto protocol yet. Developing countries, who have a much
lower emission of greenhouse-gasses, should promise to reduce
their emissions first. (1)
Furthermore, UNICE took the role of an expert in the field
of economic forecasts. Each year it publishes the 'Economic
Outlook', an analysis of several economic sectors and regions
that wasn't called for, with a discussion of the economic
and social policies in Europe, including a list of concerns
regarding each countries individually.
The conclusion of the 'Outlook 2001' is but all too clear:
"Thus it is clear that Governments are still active in
many countries in terms of new regulations, which make the
business climate more difficult for business to work in. (...)
'[the tax cuts] need to be accompanied by efforts to make
labour markets more flexible, with fewer regulations and restrictions
on employers'. (2) The problem is that most politicians value
this document very high, because "they will know".
They seem to forget that UNICE is not exactly an impartial
player in this field.
Market Mania, Corporate
Europe Observatory, 2000
2) Economic Outlook, UNICE, October 2001
In the TransAtlantic Business Dialogue (TABD), over 100 of
the most important Northern American and European companies
are represented. They advocate worldwide harmonisation of
rules and standards and see every new regulation as trade-restriction.
The TABD is one of the most dedicated pleaders of a new enlarged
WTO-round. Since their establishment in 1995 they have been
very successful in influencing politics. They take it even
as far as presenting a wish-list to the various governments
and after a certain amount of time report back, as some sort
of teachers, how pleased they are with the progress that's
That they became successful quite soon is shown by a quote
from Al Gore, at that time vice-president of the US: "
I know that you are proud of the fact that of the 129 recommendations
TABD has made in the past three years, over 50 percent has
been implemented into law. I wish we had that same level of
success with Congress!" (1) This has also called 'public
private partnership' in the area of policymaking. (2)
The EU policies which the TABD is resisting at the moment
are: the restriction on opening the European market for genetically
modified food, the gradual abolition of HFC's (greenhouses
gasses that are used in refrigerators), a ban on animal testing
for cosmetics and the take back and recycling arrangements
of electric machinery.
The past few years more and more protest is seen at TABD-meetings.
Even though the TABD decided to move their meeting in Stockholm
from the 11 and 12th of October because of the attacks on
New York, there where still around 1.000 people present on
the 11 and 12th of October at a demonstration (in Stockholm)
and an alternative conference. (3)
Gore in his speech bij de TABD Conferentie in Charlotte,USA,
Novembre 6 1998
2) 'Transatlantic Governance in the Global Economy', Pollack
and Shaffer, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2001
3) More information on the actions in Stockholm can be found
en op <www.xs4all.nl/~ceo>.
For those who want to read more on TABD we advise to read
the article 'TABD in Troubled Water' from Corporate
Until a few
years ago it was straight-forward: business simply denied any social
and environmental problem. If politics threatened to go the 'wrong'
way, then the messages about the importance of the economy and work
opportunities in the western home countries were hammered out. But
in the past years they more often try to make it clear to the world
that they (corporations) are necessary to remove environmental problems
and social misery from the world, and that they are already voluntarily
hard at work on these things. This happens for example by means
of advertising campaigns, a new green logo, beautifully presented
example projects, and of course, a lot of lobbying. This new strategy
is known as greenwashing.
There are two reasons for this change. Firstly because of the continuing
flood of critical scientific reports, denial was no longer possible.
Not even with very expensive PR campaigns. Secondly, increasing
numbers of businesses found that they could profit from environmental
problems. Trade in emission rights, patents on quick growing trees
and privatisation of increasingly scarcer water: they all produced
money. An overview of a number of methods of greenwashing:
In advertising campaigns the business is associated with something
green or socially minded. Aeroplanes are compared to swans, you
clean the air if you fill up with clean petrol, energy firms just
have windmills....But aside from TV, newspaper and billboard advertisements
a lot else goes on. Businesses present their greenest side to the
stock exchanges and during conferences and public addresses. Money
is spent on fancy green folders and other promotion material.
Businesses and their interest groups send thousands of lobbyists
to conferences on environmental or economic subjects. They know
their way through the conference centres better than their colleagues
from the (environmental) NGOs. While outside a demonstration of
concerned citizens will perhaps make the TV if some windows are
smashed, inside hundreds of business representatives sit with the
world leaders at the table.
with interested parties
In order to make clear to the world that they really mean the best
for the environment and the third world, increasing numbers of 'Multistakeholder
Dialogues' are organised. In these all interested parties ('stakeholders')
can sit around the table with business and make their complaints
and their wishes known. One problem with the official discussions
between the government and business is that the agenda is already
decided in outline: it is only possible to talk about how one project
(or a treaty) will be carried out and about compensatory measures,
but the project itself is never up for discussion. Forget about
talking critically about growth in production and the economy.
In answer to
concerned questions and remarks, businesses (and politicians if
they are present) will say that they completely share the concerns,
that they see that there are problems, and these will be worked
on. Sometimes a number of moderate NGOs will be carefully chosen,
but more often everyone can join in. If they don't reach a conclusion
during the discussions that is not a problem. The press has at least
seen that the problem is being seriously worked on. All of this
enhances the image of business as a trustworthy party, and sometimes
as a saviour in dreadful days. It is even more annoying that sometimes
even the NGOs involved are lulled to sleep by the sweet stories,
and walk outside thinking that they have again been able to make
the world a little bit better. You could also call this 'polder
model greenwashing'.(the Polder model is a model originating from
the Netherlands whereby all 'sides' sit together and talk about
their differences in order to reach a solution. It has effectively
secured the silence of labour unions and any real opposition to
Nearly all big businesses have got one or two green or socially-minded
projects. Oil companies invest in solar cells, agro-mulinationals
deal in organic seed, and even chemical company Akzo shows off its
windmills. The amount spent on the promotion of the improvement
is often more than the costs of the project itself. As well as polishing
their image there is another foul smell associated with investment
in clean technology: by buying up green competitors, green developments
can be held back for as long as they are undesirable for the profit-making,
but polluting core-business. One such example is Shell and BP AMOCO
with their solar cells.
has the biggest hatred for is regulation. A large part of the lobbying
aims to prevent regulation and binding social and environmental
directives. To reach this, self-regulation is promoted. Business
wants, if necessary in cooperation with governments and interest
groups, to draw up non-binding agreements which they will try to
fulfil. They also wish to keep under their control the checks made
on the results of self regulation and voluntary initiatives. They
understand the situation and they can do it most efficiently and
cheapest. If we would only just trust them and leave them in peace.
This has been called 'Deep Greenwashing' by the American research
group Corporate Watch. (1)
This tactic is successful: Liikanen (EU Enterprise Commissioner)
became a big advocate of self-regulation after UNICE in particular,
but also other lobby groups, pleaded for some years for self-regulation
instead of normal legislation.
A recent Commission report stated that this is necessary if the
European Union is to become the cheapest and easiest place to do
business. A progress report by the Commission states that these
radical reforms are needed "if the EU is to become the cheapest
and easiest place to do business in the world" (2)
was said in the piece about lobbying there are more and more official
partnerships between governments and business, so-called Public
Private Partnerships (PPP). These projects are misused by business
to polish their image. these partnerships exist from local to global
levels. The United Nations, which is seen by almost everyone as
a trustworthy objective respectable organisation, is in particularly
being misused. One example of this is the one and a half year old
'Global Compact'. In order to help the underfunded UN realise some
of their environmental and social 'projects', as well as other reasons,
the UN has bedded down with multinationals and lobby groups. To
be allowed to participate businesses must respect nine principles
(2). Many companies actually don't give a damn about these. (3)
Although the Global Compact has not yet yielded a single concrete
result; this partnership is already mentioned with much pride in
the yearly reports, folders and websites of the participating businesses.
For the showing-off with the UN logo, the term 'bluewashing' is
already in use (4). Another organisation with whom businesses like
to appear in a photo-op is the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).
'green' strategy requires another strategy from action groups and
NGOs. We have to look at what companies are doing and what sort
of message they are trying to bring across. Therefore our message
too, has to be well thought-out. Business will try to paint 'radical'
critics who don't want to participate in their discussions as obstinate
and unreasonable. Business attempts to actively play to their critics.
Business and lobby groups have got whole teams to keep an eye on
the (direct-) action movement and to take the wind out of their
sails. A PR guru listed the following step-by-step plan to beat
activists: 'isolate' the radicals, 'cultivate' the idealists and
school them so that they will work together with industry. (5)
nor effort is spared in order to bring the new message across. The
final message is that there has been a 'far-reaching cultural change'
in business. However, in the meantime companies continue to strive
for higher production, cost minimising and profit maximising. It
is still the shareholders who decide and they are only interested
in dividends and increased market value. Any development that stands
in the way of this is taboo. It really is just about a misleading
greenwashed layer on the outside!
1) More about
this at the campaign
against greenwashing at the website of CorpWatch US.
2) Interim Report from the Commission to the Stockholm European
Council, 'Improving and Simplifying the Regulatory Environment',
Brussel, maart 2001. See also
'"Better Regulation"' in CEO's
3) See officialUN
Global Compact website
4) Alliance Monitors Global Compact Violators, CorpWatch US, October
US. More about greenwashing within the UN is to be found on the site of A SEED Europe
6) Andy Rowell, Greenwash Goes Legit, The Guardian, Wednesday July
a real democratic, participative society, it is necessary to decentralise
political and economic power. In order to do this, we have to change
the way our economical system operates and the way we think about
the economy. It is clear for a lot of people that the capitalist
economic system is harmful to our society, because of the gross
inequalities it creates and increases, which results in a democratic
deficit, marginalisation of workers, damage to the environment,
and a general lack of accountability.
The need for ever-growing corporate profits results in fierce competition:
in short profit has preference over social and environmental needs.
The idea that the nation-state is the solution and that we should
go back to the welfare state also has its flaws. Not only is the
nation state a far cry from real participative democracy, its borders
also lead to exclusion, and the economic competition it engages
in with other states will, in times of recession, lead to the same
situation we're in now.
Faced with criticism, our government leaders often resort to the
"There Is No Alternative". If we listen to this excuse
and won't look for an alternative there is never going to be any.
But this argument is nothing more than a last resort if there's
nothing left to legitimate the system with. It's up to us to take
this argument out of order.
The capitalist system is based on, amongst others, the principle
of 'comparative advantage'. This means that if in two places products
A and B are made, it would be more efficient to have one place specialising
in product A and the other in B. These two places then can trade
their products which leads to a so-called 'win-win' situation. Because
of the demand for ongoing economic growth this process leads to
the present corporate led economic globalisation. However, this
process doesn't always lead to a 'win-win' situation. A good example
is the Third World countries that have been specialising in the
export of natural resources for decades and have seen the price
of these only going down.
The more a country specialises, the less control as they become
dependent on global market prices in which they have no say, and
therefore become pawns in the global economic market system.
is that of production. Economists argue that the capitalist system
is the best in creating welfare, because everybody is working for
their own interest. But, this welfare is very specific, measured
by the amount of money one has to consume. Welfare is not measured
by the true freedom to choose what you really want and need in your
life. An existence based on need, not on primitive economic survival.
As a consequence we will have to do with less consumables and luxury
articles. A world population with a western consumption style is
completely not sustainable, think of those 1 billion Chinese that
are starting to buy cars, washing machines air-conditioning etc.
What is much more important is supplying everybody with their basic
necessities. We think that people have a right to certain basic
things, like food and housing and should not have to be forced to
work to survive.
If we want to create an economy that works for everybody, we should
start to undermine the power structures of the present system. Taking
power back and decentralising and democratising it in our communities,
companies, organisations and our own environment. By demanding it
in the street and by taking direct action, by creating our own autonomous
democracy and direct action;
a different perspective
The reason for
this brochure is the occupation of the European lobby group Cefic.
One of our complaints is the lack of democracy in lobby groups.
Although industrial lobby groups differ very much between each other,
they represent the interests of large companies and shareholders
and not directly human interests. Cefic for example, lobbies for
a lax attitude towards (dangerous) chemical substances and blocks
a levy that could help combat the greenhouse effect. Human health
or the preservation of life-giving ecosystems obviously do not weigh
as heavily as the expansion of the chemical industry.
by people or groups to oppress or exploit others is probably timeless.
But nothing prevents us from fighting against this. A continual
demand for the basic rights of people, animals and ecosystems is
needed. We do this by engaging in direct action. Not only symbolic
action to 'please' the media, but also, although just temporarily,
to stop what we consider to be unjust or at least irresponsible.
We will use no violence against people or property in this action,
but will let other activists and critical people see that there
is more possibilities than just demonstrating or signing petitions.
We also want to inspire people with positive alternatives. This
is not just about more socially minded or environmentally friendly
production processes, but importantly also about a directly democratic
way of working together.
are convinced that everyone has a right, together with others, to
give a form to their life. On this level of society we stand for
a direct democratic model of organisation. That means that the power
of decisions is as far as possible equally spread among the people
and important freedoms are protected. In order to allow a democracy
to function everyone must have access to information: information
about what is going well or badly, and what is important for your
or someone else's life. What we as activists often notice is that
there is a huge amount of information kept back in order to play
certain (power) games. Exactly because of this, actions are important
to refine a democracy: the right to information is demanded. The
attention of the public is, via the media, focussed on certain things,
so that everyone can themselves critically decide about things that
But even if
the information about outrages is public, it appears that very little
changes. In a society there are a number of contradictory interests
and one group will not easily give up their own interests, even
if these negatively affect others. There is a legal system in order
to settle conflicts of interests, but it often so that the powerful
succeed in manipulating or stepping around this legal system. Certainly
in an economically globalised world, where multinational companies
deal the cards, a court working nationally is pretty powerless.
There are in fact all sorts of things which are going wrong structurally:
we should be able to accuse certain people, but they are just puppets
in a structure in which the power relations have gone awry. When
nothing happens because everyone avoids their responsibility, or
when we are confronted with an imbalance of power relations that
will not come back to normal unless we create a balancing power,
then it is time for resistance and, if necessary, direct action.
In the case
of Cefic we want to make it clear that they must stop their activities,
or that they are not allowed the same degree of influence. Considering
that no one is doing anything, we are going to stop their work temporarily.
this occupation may let it look like we will take the law into our
own hands, and that is partly the case, we hope people will elaborate
on this action in heir own way. Most important is that we force
Cefic to legitimise themselves, something we don't believe they
can do. In order to keep the possibility of dialogue with other
citizens open, we communicate of standpoint. Furthermore, we do
this in as non-violent a manner as possible, because we recognise
the workers of Cefic as individual people and potential participants
in a democratic decision-making.
But the avoidance
of violence is also due to our alternative view that we wish to
present. A direct action is, like a novel, a sort of breaking up
of time and space. Direct actions are also passage to the impossible,
as has been shown by the actions for universal suffrage, or against
the construction of new infrastructure in environmentally valuable
areas. A break up of time and place because out of the confronting
character of direct action we want to bring forward an alternative.
Naturally there are our concrete demands that we voice in the press.
But we go about our action preparation and action endeavours as
democratically as possible and without hierarchy. Furthermore we
avoid racism, sexism and violence.
has taken different forms in relation to the historical context:
creativity and invention are more important than certain dogmas.
It is very clear to us that if we want to tackle the present ecological
and social problems, we have to go further in raising awareness
and getting everyone involved in making decisions. Otherwise we
just slip into to the umpteenth dictatorship, in whatever form.
find our form of action legitimised and you are so inspired to become
In folders and on its website Cefic explains the colours in its new logo: 'Green reflects our attitudes and principles. Maximising health and safety values, caring for the environment and bringing benefits to society.' But as long as those principles are not more as reports and empty promises this green should be replaces by brown, standing for the pollution caused by the chemical industry, and by red standing for the blood, sweat and tears from workers in the third world and people damaged by disasters health problems caused by unsafe factories and victims of the on exploitation based economy supported by the Cefic.