How the CEOs of Europe’s biggest corporations write EU policy

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Posted Apr 9 2016 by Dave Darby of

There’s an organisation based in Brussels called the European Round Table of Industrialists (ERT). It’s a club – invitation only, not transparent, not democratic – just a private club. The only people who can become members of this club are the CEOs of the biggest European multinational corporations.

ERT members include the CEOs of Philips, Volvo, Shell, Fiat, Nestle, BP etc. Not US corporations – just those with their roots in Europe.

The ERT was instrumental in forming the single market in the first place. In 1985, Jacques Delors gave a speech to the European Parliament outlining the formation of a single market that mirrored a report by the CEO of Philips, Wisse DekkerEurope 1990: An Agenda for Action. The aim of the ERT (and of the single market) is to promote growth and to orient the European economy towards exports, in order to obtain greater global market share for European corporations. From an ecological perspective, we should be doing the exact opposite of those things – stabilising the economy and gearing production towards local markets – nationally and in our communities.

ERT members are on very close terms with European Commissioners – they dine at each other’s homes, they meet regularly during work hours and they provide commissioners with places on the boards of their corporations (it’s called the ‘revolving door‘ between the state sector and the corporate sector).

Members of an activist group called the Corporate Europe Observatory managed to get into the offices of the ERT in Brussels, disguised as caterers. They were able to photocopy lots of documents, in which they found a lot of correspondence between Round Table members and commissioners about EU policy.

Many reports originating from the ERT end up as Commission policy almost word-for-word. For example, the ERT decided that we need to expand the motorway network in Europe, to facilitate growth and exports, and almost exactly the same map that they produced was used by the Commission and adopted by the European Parliament.

The European Commission is an appointed body not an elected one. EU policy officially originates from the European Commission, but unofficially and in reality, it originates with the ERT.

This isn’t controversial. You can search for it – It’s not a conspiracy theory. In fact you don’t have to search very far – Leon Brittan encouraged it publicly, and the attitude still prevails today – what’s good for the European Round Table of Industrialists is good for all of us.

If you believe that, then you’ve obviously strayed onto this website accidentally and this isn’t going to make much sense to you.

I think the appropriate response when confronted with a corporate puppet institution is to reject it. So that’s what I’ll be voting for in June, and of course I wouldn’t be writing this if I didn’t want to persuade you to do the same.

I think that probably most people in the sort-of greenie, sort-of left circles I move in are thinking of voting to stay in, for reasons related to European environmental and social directives. I’d argue that those directives don’t come close to making up for the increase in global corporate power, growth and exports that staying in will bring. And remember that polluting factories haven’t been eliminated, just exported.

However, I’ve also heard arguments supporting the EU because of vague notions of ‘unity’. I’m in favour of unity, just not unity through corporate institutions. We can build our own unity.

We’re not going to be able to reject our corporate-controlled national government quite yet, but we have an opportunity to reject this one.