Corporate Europe Observatory

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CEO is a research and campaign group working to expose and challenge the privileged access and influence enjoyed by corporations and their lobby groups in EU policy making. CEO is registered as a not-for-profit foundation.


  • Jul.10.2018: Accounting for influence: how the Big Four are embedded in EU tax avoidance policy. Corporate Europe Observatory has a report out today which is well worth reading. We’ve written and commented extensively on the Big Four accountancy firms and the damage they do, you can read more in our ‘enablers and intermediaries’ section. As our CEO Alex Cobham has said, they’re “not the guardians of financial probity they purport to be. It’s time to recognise them for what they are — or we’ll keep getting stung.” ... We pay our taxes. So why don’t corporations? A study for the European Parliament has estimated that corporate tax avoidance costs the EU between €50bn and €70bn a year – and could even be as high as €160-€190bn. The Tax Avoidance industry consists of all intermediaries that facilitate corporate tax avoidance, including tax advisors like accountancy and auditing firms, tax lawyers and law firms, and financial institutions such as banks. The Big Four accountancy firms – Deloitte, EY, KPMG, and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) – are the goliaths of corporate tax planning, designing and selling tax avoidance schemes to multinational corporations. But although they are key players in the tax avoidance industry, many policy-makers see the Big Four as legitimate and neutral advisers when it comes to preventing tax avoidance. ... It is no coincidence that their fingerprints are so often found on the audits of failed companies like Carillion, or indeed corrupt states. KPMG’s shameful involvement in undermining the South African Revenue Service is but an extreme example. more Naomi Fowler, Tax Justice Network. Linkback: Financial Services Industry
  • Dec.10.2015: The corporate capture of the climate talks. The biggest winners from the Paris climate summit (COP21) will be the very corporate forces that have scuppered meaningful action to tackle the problem. With the risks so high for people and planet, why have political leaders continuously bowed to the wish-lists of the same industries causing the problem? The evidence points to corporate capture, a form of political decay that sets in when a public authority established to act in the public interest becomes gradually hijacked so that it adopts the agenda of the groups that dominate the sector it is charged with regulating. The story of UN climate talks is one of big fossil fuel corporations using greenwashing and effective lobbying campaigns to achieve the corporate capture they so badly need to protect their profits. Weakening, co-opting and subverting successive UN climate talks has been the aim of the game. The outcome, at each stage since the earliest incarnations of global climate summits, has seen weak rules, voluntary initiatives, market-based mechanisms, and techno-fixes adopted as solutions. The World Business Council for Sustainable Development is key to this successful campaign to put business at the centre of UN climate policy. much more Pascoe Sabido, Corporate Europe Observatory.
  • Apr.2014: The fire power of the financial lobby. A survey of the size of the financial lobby at the EU level. The findings are stunning. In total the financial industry spends more than €120 million per year on lobbying in Brussels and employs more than 1700 lobbyists. The financial industry lobbied the post-crisis EU regulation via over 700 organisations and outnumbered civil-society organisations and trade unions by a factor of more than seven, with an even stronger dominance when numbers of staff and lobbying expenses are taken into account. In sum the financial lobby is massively outspending other (public) interests in terms of EU lobbying, by a factor of more than 30. Corporate Europe Observatory.