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<nettime> corporate europe observer (issue 6, april 2000)


   __________        CORPORATE  EUROPE  OBSERVER        ____________

    ISSUE 6                                              APRIL 2000

   Welcome to the sixth issue of the Corporate Europe Observer. We
   open with four articles on the European Commission and its links
   with corporate Europe. During the negotiations on the review of
   the Amsterdam Treaty that will take place this year, CEO will run
   an 'IGC-Watch' initiative, to monitor and report on corporate
   lobbying activities around the treaty revision process. In this
   issue, we get a glimpse of corporate ambitions for the treaty
   revision, mainly through attempts to expand the Commission's
   powers to negotiate in international fora such as the WTO. 

   We follow with an examination of the 'revolving door' phenomenon
   between the European Commission and the corporate world and look
   at a few recent cases. A short item on a special EC budget line
   for sponsoring and promoting the creation of international
   business roundtables follows. We end the EU section with an
   article on the recent attempts by the Commission to restrict
   public access to EU documents. 

   A brief report on European corporate lobbying at the WTO Seattle
   Ministerial opens the following section, followed by an update on
   the European Commission's Investment Network initiative. Next is
   an article on corporate responses to the outcome, or lack
   thereof, of the Seattle Ministerial. We present responses by
   lobby groups such as UNICE and the International Chamber of
   Commerce (ICC) as well as European think-tanks and PR companies. 
   The low profile business response after the ministerial obscures
   the development of new strategies to deal with opposition against
   neoliberal globalisation. Finally, we present the more
   sophisticated corporate reaction to Seattle, that was unveiled at
   the 30th world economic forum (WEF) meeting in Davos, last
   January. At that meeting, more than 2000 industrialists, national
   and international political leaders strategised how to put a
   'human face' to globalisation in order to counter what is called
   the backlash against globalisation. 

   In issue 5 of the Corporate Europe Observer, we wrote on the
   controversial Global Compact, a new partnership between the
   United Nations and major corporations. In this issue we report on
   the new UN website which was launched in Davos. 

   We then follow with a brief review of Johann-Gunther König's book
   "Alle Macht den Konzerne -- das Neue Europa im Griff der
   Lobbyisten" ("All Power to the Corporations -- the New Europe
   in the Grip of the Lobbyists"), a useful guide to Germany Inc. 
   that describes how the German corporate landscape is being
   transformed by economic globalisation. 

   We finish with a report on the meeting of campaigners,
   researchers and journalists working on the subject of
   corporate political power which CEO organised in Córdoba,
   Spain, last October. We also reprint the Córdoba Declaration
   that resulted from that meeting. 



   * Intergovernmental Conference 2000:
     Business and the Amsterdam Leftovers

   * Back to Business: Revolving Doors in Brussels

   * EC Offers Funding for International Business Roundtables

   * Texts, Lies & Red Tape: The EC's (Failed) Crusade For Secrecy

   * European Industry in Seattle

   * Update on the Investment Network: How the EC and Business
     Prepared for WTO Investment Talks in Seattle

   * Business Responses to Seattle

   * Davos 2000: 'New Beginnings' for Global Capitalism?

   * Toothless UN Website on Global Compact with TNCs

   * Guide to "Germany Inc."

   * CEO Hosts Meeting in Spain

   * The Córdoba Declaration

   * Disclaimer

   This issue of the Corporate Europe Observer is brought to you by
   Belén Balanyá, Ann Doherty, Olivier Hoedeman, Adam Ma'anit and Erik
   Wesselius. Our special thanks go to Chris Grimshaw for helping out
   with the editing.

   Corporate Europe Observatory is a research and campaign group
   targeting the threats to democracy, equity, social justice and
   the environment posed by the economic and political power of
   corporations and their lobby groups.

   If you would like to support our work financially, we
   invite you to become donor of Corporate Europe Observatory.

   Corporate Europe Observatory
   Paulus Potterstraat 20
   1071 DA  Amsterdam, Netherlands
   tel/fax: +31-20-6127023
   e-mail: <>
   website: <>


   To accommodate the expansion of the EU with up to thirteen new
   Member States, [1] the EU Treaty will be revised again this year,
   at the Intergovernmental Conference ('IGC 2000'). During past
   Treaty revisions, corporate lobbying campaigns have often
   successfully enshrined corporate priorities into the EU Treaty.
   [2] This article gives a preliminary overview of corporate
   ambitions for the upcoming Treaty revision. One disturbing
   example is the proposed expansion of the European Commission's
   powers in WTO negotiations.

   Corporate Lobbying for Amsterdam

   During the previous Intergovernmental Conference, which resulted
   in the Amsterdam Treaty (1997), corporate lobby groups mounted an
   active lobby campaign [3] around three main demands:

    - to strengthen the power and 'ability to act' of the
      European Union, especially the European Commission;

    - to stick to previously agreed schedules for Economic
      and Monetary Union and for enlargement of the European
      Union to Central and Eastern Europe; and

    - to avoid integrating new elements such as environmental
      and social clauses, which were described as threats to
      the competitiveness of EU business.

   Although industry was very pleased with the Maastricht Treaty,
   they wanted more. "We feel very strongly that Europe can not move
   at the pace of the slowest," remarked European Roundtable of
   Industrialists (ERT) Secretary- General Richardson in February
   1997, "... the United States could do nothing if every decision
   had to be ratified by 52 states." [4]

   The Amsterdam Treaty (1997) was quite satisfactory for business,
   but it failed to create "a better way of managing Europe." [5]
   The more controversial aspects of institutional reform
   (streamlining the European Commission as a kind of EU management
   team, further limiting Member States' power of veto, and
   extension of qualified majority voting and reweighing votes in
   the Council of Ministers) were postponed for the current IGC.

   Institutional Reform: Business as Usual

   The scope of the IGC 2000 is modest compared to previous Treaty
   revisions. As a result, corporate lobbying has been less
   pronounced. So far, only the Union of Industrial and Employers'
   Confederations of Europe (UNICE) has issued a (preliminary)
   position paper. The influential EU Committee of American Chambers
   of Commerce, AmCham (representing 'European companies of American
   parentage'), is still gearing up its campaign. It has formed an
   IGC working group which is preparing a position paper. The
   European Roundtable of Industrialists (ERT), representing 47 of
   the largest European TNCs, has very successfully influenced
   previous Treaty revisions, [6] but seems less active and to have
   left the initiative to other business groupings this time around.

   Whilst the lobby groups appear relatively inactive, the role
   played by corporate-dominated think tanks, however, may be
   greater than during previous Treaty revisions. Both the European
   Policy Centre [7] and Friends of Europe [8] have formed IGC
   working groups where corporate leaders and EU representatives
   meet regularly. We will keep a close watch on these think tanks
   and report our findings in future issues of the Corporate Europe

   The UNICE position paper gives a good indication of the kind of
   demands that will be put forward by corporate lobby groups.
   Unsurprisingly, the IGC negotiators are asked to "take on board
   some key business concerns." They demand that any reforms should
   strengthen the EU's "capacity to take and implement decisions in
   its areas of competence, and to respond effectively to the global
   challenges it faces."  Competitiveness should be strengthened and
   economic and monetary union and convergence of the EU's economies
   should be guaranteed. Existing Single Market law should not be
   'diluted' by the accession of new Member States. UNICE also
   pleads for increased capacity for the EU to defend and promote
   common European interests at international level. [9]

   By demanding that new EU Member States must adopt all Single
   Market legislation, and that existing members should comply
   fully, UNICE aims to consolidate the neoliberal thrust of EU
   policies. A new target date for "completion of the Single Market"
   should keep things on track. However UNICE has some reservations
   regarding closer intergovernmental cooperation by groups of
   Member States -- namely 'flexibility'. A "balance between
   harmonisation and competition of policies in an enlarged EU" is
   deemed crucial. [10]

   Power Play in the WTO

   During the negotiations on the Amsterdam Treaty, business
   strongly pushed for new powers for the European Commission in
   international negotiations on trade and investment, such as in
   the World Trade Organisation (WTO).  Both UNICE and the ERT
   proposed that the power of the European Commission to bargain on
   behalf of EU Member States should be extended to all external
   commercial issues, including trade in services, investment and
   the protection of intellectual property. This demand was backed
   by the President of the European Commission, Jacques Santer in a
   letter he sent to EU heads of state and governments a few days
   before the Amsterdam Summit in June 1997. But despite lobbying by
   business and the Commission, French President Jacques Chirac
   blocked the proposals for revision of the relevant Article 113 of
   the Maastricht Treaty during the Amsterdam Summit. Afterwards,
   ERT Secretary-General Keith Richardson bitterly remarked that
   "Europe is poorer and weaker because of this failure." [11]

   The WTO Ministerial Conference in Seattle showed the risks of
   shifting more negotiating power to the European Commission in the
   field of foreign economic policy. In a last- ditch attempt to
   launch a new Round of trade negotiations, EU Trade Commissioner
   Pascal Lamy conceded to US demands to set up a biotechnology
   working group in the WTO, despite having no mandate to do so.
   Such controversial deals could be blocked by representatives of
   Member State governments. Under the Amsterdam Treaty, WTO
   negotiations are a shared responsibility between the Council of
   Ministers and the European Commission. If the Commission had
   negotiated on behalf of the Member States, there would have been
   no delegations from Member States.  In such a situation,
   controversial deals can only be revoked afterwards, and most
   probably Lamy would have gotten away with them.

   The campaign against the Multilateral Agreement on Investment
   (MAI) has clearly shown the advantage of shared responsibility
   (and veto powers for individual Member States). In the OECD
   negotiations on international investment rules, the role of the
   EC was limited and EU governments had a great deal of
   independence. In the anti- MAI campaigns, national governments
   were targeted, and success in one country (France) was
   instrumental in sinking the MAI.

   Unfortunately, the IGC 2000 treaty revision provides a new chance
   for the Commission and its business allies to extend the European
   Commission's powers in external commercial policy. The lobbying
   campaign has already begun. In one of his first acts as
   Commission president, Romano Prodi nominated a "High-Level
   Reflection Group" to "advise the Commission on the issues which
   the next Inter-Governmental Conference (IGC) should address."
   [12] By appointing Lord Simon, former BP chairman and former
   vice-chair of the European Roundtable of Industrialists, as one
   of the three members of this 'neutral expert group' [13],
   Commission President Prodi ensured incorporation of business
   concerns into the final report.

   Indeed the Reflection Group advised the Commission to "revisit...
   the question of external representation of the Union, in subjects
   like trade in services or international monetary matters." [14]
   The advice was taken further in the Commission's official Opinion
   on the Treaty Revision. [15] The Commission writes that it "would
   prefer a substantial amendment of the scope of Article 133
   (Article 113 in the Maastricht Treaty) by extending it to
   services, investment and intellectual property rights. Article
   133 EC should be redrafted accordingly."

   Remarkably, the Commission proposes that as a general rule, the
   Parliament would be consulted on the conclusion of international
   economic treaties, whereas assent of the EP would be needed for
   "the conclusion of agreements with important economic and
   commercial implications worldwide." It is left unclear who
   decides when that is the case. Also it is not clear if the assent
   right for the Parliament would extend to the negotiating mandate
   of the European Commission, which until now was decided upon by
   the Council of Ministers and (theoretically) assented to by
   national parliaments. Thus, the Commission proposal would mean
   removing controlling power from national parliaments while
   handing back only limited controlling power to the European

   We will continue our reportage of the corporate lobbying around
   the IGC 2000 in future issues of the Corporate Europe Observer.


   1. On 31 March 1998, accession negotiations were initiated
      with six applicant countries: Hungary, Poland, Estonia, the
      Czech Republic, Slovenia and Cyprus. At the Helsinki Summit
      on 12 December 1999, the Member States endorsed a proposal
      by the European Commission to open negotiations with
      Romania, the Slovak Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria
      and Malta. Accession of all candidate countries to the EU
      would mean an area increase of 34% and a population
      increase of 105 million.

   2. See previous publications by Corporate Europe Observatory:
      - "Europe Inc.: Dangerous Liaisons Between EU
        Institutions and Industry", Corporate Europe Observatory,
        Amsterdam 1997
      - "The Amsterdam Summit in Retrospect: Maastricht II and
        Corporate Lobby Successes", CEObserver, Zero Issue,
        October 1997.
      - "Europe Inc.: Regional & Global Restructuring and the
        Rise of Corporate Power", Balanyá et al., Pluto Press,
        London, January 2000.

     3. Ibid.

     4. Personal interview with Keith Richardson, Brussels,
        21 February 1997.

     5. Keith Richardson, "Managing Europe: the Challenge to the
        Institutions", February 1998.

     6. See CEO publications listed in note 2.

     7. For more info on the European Policy Centre:
        - "The European Policy Centre", CEObserver Issue 2,
           October 1998
        - "European Policy Centre Strikes Back",
           CEObserver Issue 3, June 1999
        - EPC website: <>

     8. "Friends of Europe is a non-profit organisation whose
        activities are directed by a Board of Trustees under the
        Chairmanship of Vicomte Etienne Davignon. It is an
        organisation without national or political bias and aims
        to promote discussion, research and new thinking on the
        issues shaping the future of European integration."
        Information provided by the secretariat of Friends of

        N.B. Former Commissioner Davignon is a prominent member
        of the European Roundtable of Industrialists and
        president of the Association for Monetary Union in Europe.

     9. UNICE, "Preliminary UNICE Statement in View of the
        Intergovernmental Conference", Brussels, 3 December 1999.

    10. Ibid.

    11. Keith Richardson, "Managing Europe: the Challenge to the
        Institutions", February 1998.

    12. "Informal meeting of designated Commission",
        Press Release, 27 August 1999.

    13. The other members of the expert group were former Belgian
        Prime Minister Dehaene and former President of the German
        Federal Republic Von Weizsäcker.

    14. Jean-Luc Dehaene, David Simon, Richard von Weizsäcker,
        "The Institutional Implications of Enlargement; Report to
        the European Commission", Brussels, 18 October 1999.

    15. "Adapting the Institutions to Make a Success of
        Enlargement; Commission Opinion in accordance with
        Article 48 of the Treaty on European Union on the calling
        of a Conference of Representatives of the Governments of
        the Member States to amend the Treaties",
        Brussels, 26 January 2000 [COM (2000) 34].



   In March 1999, an independent investigative committee [1] accused
   the European Commission of having lost control of an increasingly
   corrupt bureaucracy, which led to the fall of the Santer
   Commission. Only three months later, acting Industry Commissioner
   Martin Bangemann caused another scandal by announcing that he
   would move to the executive board of Spanish telecommunications
   giant Telefónica. But indignation at these scandals turned out to
   be short-lived. When two of Mr. Bangemann's former colleagues
   also moved to the corporate world, Brussels remained silent. The
   revolving doors in Brussels are still wide open...

   The Bangemann Transfer

   On 1 July 1999, acting Industry Commissioner Martin
   Bangemann announced that he planned to join the Board of
   Directors of Spanish telecommunications giant Telefónica,
   and that he wanted to resign from his duties in the
   European Commission. Jubilant Telefónica chairman Juan
   Villalonga nicknamed Bangemann "our Ronaldo", comparing
   the move of the former Commissioner with the transfer of a
   highly praised football player.

   Bangemann's move was condemned by his colleagues. The
   Commission said the correct way to approach taking up such
   a job would be to resign first and to negotiate the new job
   afterwards. Bangemann was dismissed from his function,
   and his duties were taken over by Competion Commissioner
   Karel van Miert. Although Bangemann wanted to start at
   Telefónica as soon as possible, he was told to wait until the
   Commission had decided how to handle his 'unprecedented

   Bangemann's move was blunt and over-hasty, but it was not
   at all unprecedented. The Commission has a long tradition of
   'revolving doors' to top positions in the private sector and
   vice-versa. Examples include former Commissioners Etienne
   Davignon (now Société Générale), François Ortoli (afterwards
   CEO of Elf) and Peter Sutherland (now British Petroleum and
   Goldman-Sachs) or Pirelli's Ricardo Perissich who used to be
   Industry Director-General in his former job at the European
   Commission. Bangemann may have thought of these
   predecessors, when at a press conference a few days after
   announcing his move, he stated that "it would be hard to
   prove a conflict of interests."

   However, Martin Bangemann had been responsible for EU
   information and telecommunications policies since 1992
   and his relationship with Telefónica dates back to at least
   1994. In that year, he included Telefónica's then chairman,
   Cándido Velázques-Gastelu, in the so-called "Bangemann
   High Level Group on the Information Society". [2]

   In a quick damage-control operation, the Council of Ministers
   officially dismissed Mr. Bangemann from his duties as acting
   Commissioner on July 9th. According to the judgement of the
   Council, Bangemann had failed to fulfill his obligations
   under Article 213 of the EU Treaty, especially the obligations
   to "honesty and discretion"; [3] he should never have
   accepted a position in the Telefónica Board of Directors. In
   line with the provisions of the Treaty, the Council brought a
   case before the European Court of Justice to suspend
   Bangemann's pension rights if he joins the executive board
   of Telefónica. The court case was trumpeted loudly by the
   Council in July. A few months later, when the case was
   withdrawn on the basis of some empty promises by
   Bangemann, [4] the Council found it convenient not to issue
   any press release.

   A Code of Conduct for Commissioners

   In another attempt to save the face of the Brussels
   institutions, the designated Commission of Romano Prodi
   had published a Code of Conduct for Commissioners on 17
   July 1999. [5] The most important innovations in this code
   are an obligation for Commissioners to declare their financial
   interests and assets in detail and the introduction of a
   'cooling down period' of one year after the resignation of
   Commissioners, during which they may not engage in
   occupations related to issues that fell under their
   responsibility in the Commission. When needed, an "ad hoc
   ethical committee" will decide if there is a breach of the
   obligations under article 213(2) of the EU Treaty.

   This anemic Code of Conduct cannot be considered a serious
   attempt to close the revolving doors between the European
   Commission and the private sector. The one year cooling
   down period is too short, especially when one takes into
   account that Commissioners receive up to 65% of their
   former income over a period of five years after stepping
   down from their public function. [6] Furthermore, the Code of
   Conduct doesn't specify any new sanctions beyond those
   already contained in the EU Treaty (withdrawal of pension
   rights and transitional payments).

   The Code served well to take the sting out of the debate in
   the European Parliament on the 21st July. At this first
   session of the newly elected Parliament, many MEPs strongly
   criticised the 'Bangemann affair', [7] and the Parliament
   adopted a resolution condemning Bangemann's move.
   However, no amendmends to the draft Code of Conduct were
   proposed, and when the Council withdrew its case against
   Bangemann in December, the Parliament remained silent.

   Back to Business as Usual

   Some of Mr. Bangemann's former colleagues seem to have
   interpreted the mild treatment he received and the lack of
   will in the European Parliament to address this form of
   corruption as a signal to follow in his footsteps and pass
   through the revolving doors into the corporate sector. On
   October 1st 1999, US investment bank Warburg Dillon Reed
   (a subsidiary of Swiss megabank UBS) announced that Sir
   Leon Brittan (former Trade Commissioner) would soon
   become its vice-chairman. [8]

   As Trade Commissioner, Sir Leon had been responsible for
   negotiating the WTO agreement on financial services -- an
   agreement designed to improve market access for banks and
   other financial players in the 'emerging markets' of the
   South. During these negotiations, Brittan worked closely with
   the influential Financial Leaders Group, of which UBS is an
   active member. [9]

   More recently, it was announced that former Competition
   Commissioner Karel van Miert is expected to join the
   advisory boards of both Philips Electronics [10] and Swiss-
   based aviation group SairGroup [11] in the spring of 2000.
   When in office, Van Miert took several decisions directly
   affecting both companies.

   Considering these facts, there is a shocking lack of political
   will, both in the Commission and the European Parliament,
   to stop the blurring of borders between business and politics
   and to close the revolving doors once and for all. Less than a
   year after the fraud and corruption crash of the Santer
   Commission, it seems Brussels is 'back to business as usual'.


   1. Committee of Independent Experts, "First Report on
      Allegations Regarding Fraud, Mismanagement and Nepotism in
      the European Commission", 15 March 1999.

   2. Members of the High-Level Group on the Information
      Society: Martin Bangemann (European Commission), Enrico
      Cabral da Fonseca (Campanhia Comunicaçaoes nacionais),
      Peter Davis (Reed Elsevier), Carlo de Benedetti (Olivetti /
      ERT), Pehr Gyllenhammar (Volvo / ERT), Lothar Hunsel (T-
      Mobil), Pierre Lescure (Canal+), Pascual Maragall (mayor of
      Barcelona), Gaston Thorn (Cie. Luxembourgeoise de
      Telediffusion / CLT), Cándido Velázquez-Gastelu (Telefónica
      / ERT), Peter Bonfield (ICL), Etienne Davignon (Société
      Générale de Belgique / ERT), Jean-Marie Descarpentries
      (Bull), Brian Ennis (IMS), Hans-Olaf Henkel (IBM Europe),
      Anders Knutsen (Bang & Olufsen), Constantin Makropoulos
      (Hellenic Information Systems), Romano Prodi (IRI),
      Jan Timmer (Philips Electronics / ERT ), Heinrich von
      Pierer (Siemens / ERT).

      Please note that this information relates to the year 1994.
      As indicated, 6 of the 20 members of the Bangemann Group
      also belonged to the European Roundtable of Industrialists.

   3. Art 213 (2) of the "Consolidated Version of the Treaty
      Establishing the European Community": "The Members of
      the Commission may not, during their term of office, engage
      in any other occupation, whether gainful or not. When
      entering upon their duties they shall give a solemn
      undertaking that, both during and after their term of
      office, they will respect the obligations arising therefrom
      and in particular their duty to behave with integrity and
      discretion as regards the acceptance, after they have
      ceased to hold office, of certain appointments or
      benefits. In the event of any breach of these obligations,
      the Court of Justice may, on application by the Council or
      the Commission, rule that the Member concerned be,
      according to the circumstances, either compulsorily retired
      in accordance with Article 216 or deprived of his right to
      a pension or other benefits in its stead."

   4. The case against Bangemann was withdrawn on 17 December
      1999, on condition that Bangemann would also withdraw his
      case against the Council. The Council justified its
      decision by referring to the promises that Bangemann made
      in a letter to the Council dated 10 December 1999, namely
      that he would not join the 'consejo administrativo' of
      Telefónica before 1 July 2000 (thus complying with the 1
      year 'cooling off' period in the new Code of Conduct for
      Commissioners), that he would not represent the
      interests of third parties (including Telefónica) at the
      EU institutions until 31 December 2001 and not make use of
      any confidential information that he had access to as a

   5. The Code of Conduct came into force when Romano Prodi's new
      Commission came into office (18 September 1999). The
      provisions of the Code of Conduct do not bind members of
      previous Commissions.

   6. Article 7 of Regulation No 422/67/EEC, No 5/67/Euratom,
      amended in Regulation (ECSC, EEC, Euratom) No 1546/73 of
      the Council of 4 June 1973.

   7. Minutes of the plenary debate in the European Parliament on
      the position of Mr. Bangemann, Brussels 21 July 1999.
      Available on the EP web site.

   8. "Sir Leon Brittan to join Warburg Dillon Read as Vice
      Chairman", Warburg Dillon Reed press release, 1 October 1999.

   9. For more info on the Financial Leaders Group, see:
      - "WTO Millennium Bug: TNC Control over Global Trade
      Politics", CEObserver, Issue 4, July 1999;
      - "Europe Inc.: Regional and Global Restructuring and the
      Rise of Corporate Power", Balanyá ... [et al], Pluto Press,
      London, 2000.

  10. Philips press release, 17 February 2000. As Competition
      Commissioner, Van Miert investigated the techno-lease
      construction, a sophisticated construction through which
      Philips received massive Dutch government funding. In the
      end, Van Miert approved the construction.

  11. SAirGroup press release, Zurich, 6 March 2000.
      According to the press release "Karel Van Miert is a
      leading authority on European market and competition issues".



   Readers of the Corporate Europe Observer will be familiar with
   the Transatlantic Business Dialogue (TABD), the group of EU and
   US based industrialists initiated by the European Commission and
   the US government. The mushrooming of EU business roundtables
   involving CEOs from other parts of the world is facilitated by
   generous funding from the European Commission (EC). The EC's
   enterprise directorate has a special budget line for the
   "promotion of international business-to-business dialogue." [1]

   "From an EU standpoint," the announcement on the EC's website
   explains, "such dialogue should contribute to enhancing the
   global competitiveness of EU business and lead to recommendations
   to the public authorities of both regions on how to achieve such
   objectives." [2] The EC offers to pay up to 50% of the costs of
   "conferences, seminars and workshops as well as their preparatory
   or follow-up activities" and lists examples of business dialogues
   it already supported: EU-Japan Business Round Table,
   Transatlantic Business Dialogue with the United States of
   America, EU-Russia Business Round Table, EU-Taiwan Business
   Round Table, EU-ASEAN Business Round Table and Mercosur-EU
   Business Forum. [3]

   If you want to know whether the EU has funded an international
   business roundtable targeting a region with your particular
   interest, contact the civil servant responsible for the budget

   DG III/A/2 -- Jean-Pierre Bou -- fax: +32-2-296.98.52, E-mail:


   1. DG III Grant Theme 18, in 1999 with a budget of 150.000

   2. Website of the EC's DG Enterprise:

   3. Ibid.



   Opposition from campaigners defending freedom of information may
   have managed to prevent European Commission (EC) attempts to
   further restrict public access to EU documents. The EC had hoped
   to rollback the scope of the existing rules, which, despite many
   loopholes still, are an important democratic tool. CEO, for
   example, makes use of this public right to information to gain
   access to key documents and information which exposes the links
   between industry and EC. [1]

   To counter strong public criticism of the European Union being
   secretive, the right of access to information was included in the
   1991 Maastricht Treaty. This resulted in the various EU
   institutions developing rules by which citizens can apply for
   access to documents. [2] In practice these rules have, however,
   proven to be no guarantee of transparency. Statewatch, a UK-based
   group monitoring civil liberties in the EU, took seven cases to
   the European Ombudsman after the European Council had rejected
   access to documents, and won six of them. Heidi Hautala, Finnish
   member of the European Parliament, had to go to the European
   Court of Justice to force the Council to give her access to
   sensitive documents on nuclear issues.

   A review of the existing rules is scheduled in the 1997 Amsterdam
   Treaty, which describes itself as "a new stage in the process of
   creating an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe, in
   which decisions are taken as openly as possible and as closely as
   possible to the citizen." [3] The European Commission was given
   the mandate to make a proposal for new rules which are to be
   approved before May 2000 (two years after the treaty entered into
   force). However, rather than removing the loopholes in the
   current rules, the EC drew up a proposal that would seriously
   restrict access to documents.

   It is normal practice that a discussion paper is circulated for
   public consultation before the process of drafting new
   regulations start, but ironically the discussion paper on access
   to information (drafted by officials from the three institutions
   -- Commission, Parliament and Council of Ministers) was not made
   public by the Commission.  Statewatch obtained a leaked copy in
   April 1999 and revealed a very restrictive proposal which "would
   set the clock back and reimpose the secrecy of the pre-Maastricht
   days." [4] The proposal would practically have forbidden public
   access to internal documents relevant for ongoing policy
   discussions. [5] The text also suggested to create a more
   'flexible system', which would have limited the right to appeal
   rejections. After having faced heavy critique, also from the
   European Parliament, the proposal, was withdrawn in June 1999.

   The Commission continued its remarkable authoritarian approach
   and did not write a new discussion paper, but instead released a
   draft regulation, excluding civil society from any input in the
   process. The draft legislation paid lip service to transparency,
   but included even more restrictions to the right of access which
   had been in the discussion paper. Working papers, for instance,
   were only to be released after the legislation is approved.
   Reproduction of any documents released would be forbidden.
   Moreover, the proposal suggested that Member States would have to
   apply the same principles and limitations. It would, in other
   words, force national governments to become as closed as EU

   A new wave of critique forced the Commission to rewrite the
   proposed legislation. On January 26th, the Commission approved a
   final version which expands the right to access to cover not only
   documents produced by the three institutions, but also documents
   by third parties which are in the possession of the EU
   institutions. [6] The new rules will apply only for documents
   received by the institutions after the new legislation is in
   place and a further limitation is that those who produced the
   document can ask for confidentiality. If for instance CEO would
   apply for the documents given to the EC by a corporate lobby
   group, one can expect that these groupings will request

   The draft approved by the Commission restricts the current rules
   for access to information by substantially narrowing the
   definition of "documents". For instance, it excludes documents
   reflecting free and frank discussions or advice as part of
   internal consultations or deliberations as well as informal
   messages. This is a bottomless bag which can be used to refuse
   many requests for access to documents. The Commission argues that
   it needs the "space to think" to formulate policy before it
   enters the public domain. Policy made in the glare of publicity
   "is often poor policy," the EC argues. Moreover, the proposal
   substantially increases the number of "exceptions", cases in
   which requests can be refused. [7]

   The proposal now has to be approved by the European Parliament
   and the Council, which have the right to amend the text. Public
   pressure might result in improvements, but the EC proposal is a
   very weak basis for realising the lofty promises of the Amsterdam


   1. As reported in previous issues of the Corporate Europe
      Observer (Issues 2 and 3), CEO has in the last two years
      been engaged in a systematic attempt to gain access to
      documents regarding the contacts between the Commission
      and corporate lobby groups. Despite the simple procedure
      described in the law, reality learns that one has to arm
      oneself with large doses of patience and perseverance to
      deal with rejections on weak grounds, long delays and/or
      complete silence. But after many appeals, we have succeeded
      in getting access to some revealing documents. It was
      through an Access to Information request that we learnt
      about the Investment Network (IN), the EC's process of
      consultation with industry on international investment
      issues (related to the proposed WTO Millennium Round) --
      a 'dialogue' the EC failed to inform NGOs about.

   2. The Council's rules go back to 1993 (Council Decision
      93/731/EC of 20 December 1993 on public access to
      Council documents), the Commission's to 1994 (Commission
      Decision 94/90/ECSC, EC, Euratom of 8 February 1994 on
      public access to Commission documents), whereas the
      European Parliament adopted its current rules in 1997
      (European Parliament Decision on public access to
      Parliament documents of 10 July 1997).

   3. The quote is from article A of the Amsterdam Treaty. The
      review is outlined in article 255 of the Amsterdam Treaty.

   4. Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, quoted in press release
      26 April 1999, "EU Plans to Undermine Citizens Right of
      Access to Documents".

   5. The draft proposed to exclude working documents intended as
      contributions to internal deliberations from the scope of
      the right of access. That would mean that minutes of
      meetings, briefings, reflection notes, mission reports,
      etc., would be excluded. It is precisely these documents
      which are usually the subject of the requests, not the
      official documents which are the end result of policy

   6. European Commission, proposal for a regulation of the
      European Parliament and of the Council regarding public
      access to documents of the European Parliament, the Council
      and the Commission, Explanatory Memorandum.

   7. Ibid.



   While tens of thousands of protestors were jamming the streets of
   Seattle during the WTO Ministerial Conference last year, up in
   the conference rooms and luxury suites of many four star hotels,
   business carried on as usual. Insulated from the sounds of
   protest and the clouds of tear gas, lobby teams from the major
   industry groups met daily to coordinate their strategies and
   update each other with the latest information. Almost all of the
   major European and international lobby groups had a presence in
   Seattle, including UNICE (the Union of Industrial and Employers'
   Confederations of Europe), the ESN (European Services Network)
   and the TABD (Transatlantic Business Dialogue).

   UNICE in Seattle: An Opportunity Not Missed

   "By being present in Seattle, European business wants to make its
   views heard and listened to. UNICE, together with its national
   member organisations from across Europe and representatives of
   European business sectoral organisations will not miss such an

   -- Dirk Hudig, Secretary General of UNICE [1]

   By far the most visible European lobby group in Seattle was the
   employers confederation- UNICE. Often sighted with European
   delegates and other officials, its team of over 20 lobbyists were
   hard at work championing the cause of industry. One of the chief
   reasons UNICE committed to getting such a strong presence in
   Seattle was "linked to the strong lobby of labour, consumer,
   environmental and development non-governmental organisation
   (NGOs) in the trade policy debate", said UNICE head, Hudig. [2]

   Citing the failure of the MAI as an example why business should
   be more proactive in its lobbying efforts, Hudig called for
   increased cooperation among business groupings and a more
   coordinated lobbying strategy: "The objective is also to join
   forces to counteract with the impressive media campaign launched
   around the world by many activist NGOs to denounce globalisation
   and block the start of any negotiations." [3]

   UNICE's sixty-six page lobby document "UNICE and the WTO
   Millennium Round" details European industry's priorities for a
   new 'Round' of multilateral trade negotiations. Items covered,
   include the 'Singapore issues' of investment, market access,
   government procurement, trade facilitation and competition
   policy. Other issues include electronic commerce, services,
   agriculture, and intellectual property as well as environment and

   With regards to investment, UNICE calls for "a new approach and
   not an attempted second-coming of the MAI," deeming it as one of
   its "highest priorities." [4] However, the "new approach" is not
   new at all. Instead of demanding a comprehensive agreement on
   investment in one fell swoop, they call for an entry-level
   agreement on foreign direct investment, with full liberalisation
   of investment as the long term goal. [5]

   Elsewhere, UNICE calls for, among other things, increased
   cooperation between the World Bank and the IMF, a European Union
   "offensive"  position on agriculture, and rejection of core
   labour and environmental standards in the WTO. While the position
   paper states that it is not realistic to undergo further
   negotiations on the agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of
   Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs), a joint press release by
   UNICE and Keidanren (the largest Japanese corporate lobby group)
   in October contradicts this by demanding full implementation of
   the TRIPs agreement and calling for new negotiations to begin
   with a "single undertaking" in a new round. [6]

   By far one of the biggest initiatives of UNICE is in the
   promotion of comprehensive services liberalisation through its
   work in the founding of the European Services Network.

   European Services Network

   "I am very pleased to see how quickly and enthusiastically the
   different services sectors have organised themselves to provide
   business input for the GATS 2000 negotiations. Our negotiating
   priorities need to be rooted in the real concerns of business and
   we will be paying very close attention indeed to the negotiating
   priorities that the ESN identifies."

   -- Former Trade Commissioner Sir Leon Brittan [7]

   Claiming to be responding to the request by the European
   Commission and the Member States for more contributions from
   business with regards to trade policy, Barclays Bank Chairman,
   Andrew Buxton with the aid of UNICE and other European services
   firms and associations as well as enthusiastic support from the
   Commission, formed the European Services Network. [8] The ESN's
   primary purpose is to lobby for services liberalisation during
   the negotiations on the General Agreement on Trade in Services
   (GATS) in 2000, but that didn't stop the ESN, with the help of
   UNICE and others to champion their cause in Seattle.

   Currently, services agreements in the WTO are varied and have
   different members and different levels of commitments by Members
   States. The ESN, and other services lobbies such as the US
   Coalition of Services Industries, and the Global Services Network
   umbrella group, are pushing for a comprehensive services
   agreement stringing together all the existing WTO agreements as
   well as further liberalisation of the services sector as a whole.
   In a policy document distributed to the Seattle delegates, the
   ESN praised bilateral and regional initiatives such as the
   Transatlantic Economic Partnership (TEP) for their achievements
   in services liberalisation, but stressed the need for a 'firm'
   and 'comprehensive' multilateral agreement on services to be part
   of any new round in the WTO. [9] The elements of such an
   agreement, as outlined in the ESN document, include many of the
   elements we've come to be familiar with from the MAI, such as
   standstill and rollback of national legislation regulating trade
   and investment in services, broad coverage and definition of
   services with minimal exceptions, a concept of investor 'rights',
   national treatment and most favoured nation status, and severe
   restrictions on a Member State's ability to apply 'emergency
   safeguards' for example to protect public health. [10]

   With the upcoming services negotiations on the minds of many of
   the Seattle delegates at the time, such demands may not have
   fallen on deaf ears. The majority of corporate sponsors of the
   WTO Ministerial itself through the Seattle Host Organisation,
   were major players in services industries, such as air transport
   services (Boeing, Lufthansa, and Northwest), telecommunications
   and postal services (US West, AT&T, UPS, FedEx), financial
   services (Chase Manhattan Bank, Bank of America, Deloitte &
   Touche), and information technologies (Microsoft, IBM, Hewlett
   Packard, Intel), among others. [11]

   TABD in Seattle?

   As we reported in our briefing "Transatlantic Business Dialogue
   (TABD): Putting the Business Horse Before the Government Cart",
   the TABD claims to set the agenda for the EU and US negotiators
   in the WTO. [12] At their Berlin summit in October of last year,
   over 120 Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of EU-US TNCs met with
   their trade representatives and WTO officials, to do just that.
   As such, the main thrust and substance of TABD influence is
   largely in the runup to WTO negotiations rather than direct

   Therefore, it came as some surprise to see that the TABD was
   holding private meetings in the Madison hotel in Seattle during
   the Ministerial Conference. Normally, the CEOs hold two official
   meetings a year, and the rest of the time they work within
   various working groups. An official TABD presence at a WTO
   meeting therefore, is something quite new. All attempts to get
   information about the TABD in Seattle, were met with stiff

   The WTO refused to publish information on who is registered as an
   NGO, despite not being able to provide any plausible reason why
   the information should be kept confidential. Nor were they
   willing to provide contact details for any TABD personnel or pass
   on a journalist's contact details to a TABD official, although
   they did confirm their presence there. No press releases were
   issued or any other visible presence of the TABD. Any presence in
   Seattle would have likely involved members of the Global Issues
   group of the TABD which focuses primarily on the WTO.

   Singing in the Corporate Choir

   UNICE, the ESN, and the TABD, represented some of the most
   significant European corporate lobby groups active in and around
   the 3rd Ministerial Meeting of the WTO. Others, such as the
   European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC), also threw their
   voices in support of a comprehensive new round. [13]

   The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the International
   Council on Metals and the Environment (ICME -- representing
   the mining industry), Information Technology Industry Council,
   the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council and the International
   Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Associations, also
   urged the Ministers to begin new negotiations in a comprehensive

   The US industry groups with a visible presence in Seattle
   included the US Grains Council, the Alliance for Better Foods,
   the National Food Processors Association, the Farm Bureau, US
   Chamber of Commerce, the US Council for International Business
   ("Giving business a seat at the table in promoting an open system
   of world trade, finance, and investment.") and the Biotechnology
   Industry Organization.

   To Be Continued...

   As reported in previous issues of the Corporate Europe Observer,
   [14] much of the corporate lobbying activity in the runup to a
   WTO Ministerial takes place months and sometimes years before
   official negotiations commence. While this continues to be the
   case, the rallying cry of UNICE to better coordinate corporate
   lobby efforts in order to 'counteract' the efforts of NGOs did
   not go unheard. Industry groups were present in full force,
   clamouring for attention, meeting with delegates, exchanging
   information, and working with the media.

   Critique of the corporate influence over WTO negotiations was
   central in the mass protests which took place all over the world.
   With the failure of the MAI and now Seattle hanging over their
   heads, industry will be stepping up its efforts even more as
   services and agriculture, together representing over 80% of total
   global economic activity, will be negotiated in the WTO in 2000.


   1. Hudig, Dirk. "Seattle: an opportunity not to be missed" article
      appearing in "The European Union in 2000", published by the
      European Voice in association with Adamson BSMG Worldwide.
      Page 30.

   2. Ibid.

   3. Ibid.

   4. "European business is aware that free access to markets for
      investment is not a realistic short-term objective for
      WTO. The investment agreement envisaged should nevertheless
      introduce the first welcome steps in this direction." UNICE
      and the WTO Millennium Round, Page 15.

   5. "Like other WTO agreements, the agreement on treatment of
      foreign direct investment should not only be accepted by
      all WTO members (with any necessary derogations for
      less/least developed countries), but also provide for
      periodic review and the possibility of negotiations on
      future liberalisation as and when this can be sustained by
      WTO members." UNICE and the WTO Millennium Round, Page 16.

   6. "Joint Statement by UNICE and Keidanren," Brussels,
      November 9, 1999.

   7. Sir Leon Brittan, address to the US Coalition of Service
      Industries on European strategy for GATS 2000,
      Washington DC, September 24th, 1999.

   8. "I have been struck by the highly positive response of CEOs
      and European services federations and the strong UNICE
      support for Sir Leon's call for them to work together to
      press the case for further liberalisation in international
      trade in services." Andrew Buxton, Chairman Barclays Bank
      in an address to the US Coalition of Service Industries on
      European strategy for GATS 2000,
      Washington DC, September 24th, 1999.

   9. European Services Network Set of Principles, 26 January 1999.

  10. ESN Position Paper on GATS 2000 and Emergency Safeguard
      Measures, 23 April 1999.

  11. The Seattle Host Organisation was the primary sponsor of
      the event and included some of the largest Fortune 500
      companies, and chaired by Microsoft's Bill Gates, and
      Boeing's Phil Condit. Major sponsors included Boeing,
      Microsoft, Allied Signal, Honeywell, Deloitte & Touche,
      US West, General Motors, Nextel, UPS, Ford, Hewlett
      Packard, Lucent Technologies, Motorola, United
      Technologies, Weyerhauser, AT&T, Bank of America,
      Proctor & Gamble, Fed Ex, IBM, Intel, and Chase Manhattan

  12. See "Transatlantic Business Dialogue (TABD): Putting the
      Business Horse Before the Government Cart". Published by
      CEO, October 1999.

  13. See "CEFIC Comments on a New Multilateral Trade Round",

  14. See CEObserver, Issue 4, "The WTO Millennium Bug: TNC
      Control Over Global Trade Politics", July 1999.

  15. See "Business Responses to Seattle" in this issue.





   In the runup to Seattle, the European Commission coordinated its
   campaign for investment negotiations in the WTO with the
   Investment Network, an "informal network" of business
   representatives initiated by the EC in 1998. [1] Two detailed
   surveys were carried out. One among a group of 10,000 EU
   companies to identify business expectations of "what
   international investment rules should contain." The minutes of
   its meetings with the Investment Network (now on the EC's trade
   website) leave little doubt about what steers the Commission in
   its push for WTO investment negotiations. [2]

   To "assist the Commission in tentatively identifying business
   priorities" for a WTO investment agreement, the Commission, in
   the Spring of 1999, first carried out a questionnaire among the
   50 or so large transnational corporations in the Investment
   Network. [2] The results of the questionnaire were discussed in
   detail with the Investment Network at a meeting on June 23rd. The
   EC concluded from the business replies that in comparison with
   the OECD's stranded Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI),
   the aims of a WTO investment agreement would be less ambitious.
   [3] The EC distilled from the questionnaire that accelerated
   investment liberalisation and removing performance requirements
   (conditions on employing locals, transferring technology,
   environmental regulations, etc.), key elements of the MAI, were
   no longer such urgent priorities. [4]

   During the discussion, members of the Investment Network,
   however, distanced themselves from several of the EC's
   interpretations and argued for WTO rules with clear MAI features.
   "Limitations to the free movement of capital" (such as transfer
   of profits) and "discrimination and instability of rules" were
   considered problematic, as were limits to foreign ownership and
   screening of new investors. [5] Also the EC's conclusion that
   "labour and environment standards are not a key factor in a
   company's decision to invest" was questioned.

   Apart from revealing the EC's eagerness to let business
   priorities define its WTO strategies, the minutes also make clear
   how the Commission sees business as a key campaign ally. At the
   Investment Network meeting last October, the EC complained about
   the continued lack of US government support for WTO investment
   negotiations. As this 'problem' is mainly due to lack of
   enthusiasm by US business, the EC "pointed to the vital need for
   increased informal contacts between the EU and US business in
   order to push for an investment agenda in Seattle." [6] The
   Commission also briefed the Investment Network on the latest
   developments in the OECD's review of its "Guidelines on
   Multinational Corporations". The Commission wants to keep these
   guidelines voluntary, but seems to believe that the process of
   revising them can win over some of the NGOs that opposed that
   MAI. [7]

   Apart from the questionnaire within the Investment Network, the
   EC has also commissioned a much bigger so-called 'business
   survey' among 10,000 companies. The aim of the business survey is
   to "determine the hurdles hindering European companies'
   investments outside the EU and to gather their expectations in
   terms of what international investment rules should contain." [8]
   The results of this survey, carried about by the consultancy
   SOFRES, were to be ready just before the Seattle Ministerial, but
   have still not been released.

   It is high time for Commissioner Lamy to explain how the reality
   of EC-initiated business groupings and expensive surveys for
   identifying corporate priorities fits with the lofty claims of a
   WTO Millennium Round being about 'sustainable development' and
   the concerns of the worlds' poorest.


   1. For background information, see CEObserver, Issue 4,
      "The WTO Millennium Bug: TNC Control over Global Trade
      Politics", CEO, July 1999.

   2. The two last meetings of the Investment Network before
      the Seattle Ministerial Conference (23 June and 25 October
      1999) were attended by between 25 and 35 representatives of
      major EU based corporations (including BP, Elf Aquitaine,
      ICI, Pechiney, SmithKline Beecham and Unilever). A post-
      Seattle meeting of the Investment Network was announced for
      early 2000, but does not seem to have taken place yet.

      The minutes were only put on the website after repeated
      critique from CEO and others: the EC consultations with
      NGOs feature prominently on the site, whereas the parallel
      process of meetings with the Investment Network, the
      European Services Forum and other corporate structures was
      largely invisible. The documents related to the Investment
      Network are hard to find on the website, but they are worth
      looking for:

      Note that the minutes are not logically placed in the
      section dealing with the "Millennium Round", but elsewhere
      on the website. Visitors of the website looking for
      information on how the EC is preparing its WTO agenda will,
      at the time of this writing, still only see information
      about meetings with NGOs.

   3. "Short Minutes of the 4th Investment network meeting",
      Brussels, 5 October 1999.

   4. While the aims would be "very different than those of the
      draft MAI," the essential target would however still be to
      safeguard and expand investors' 'rights'. Discussion Paper
      "Preliminary results of the Business Investment Network
      questionnaire", EC, Brussels 23 June 1999.

   5. Concerning investment liberalisation, the EC concluded
      that the wave of economic deregulation has already done
      away with almost all barriers for foreign investors. As for
      performance requirements, the WTO TRIMs agreement already
      limits the use of such measures and "governments are
      gradually dismantling" these measures anyhow, "in their
      efforts to attract FDI."

   6. "Civil society Consultation on Trade and Investment:
      Report," Brussels, 23 June 1999.

   7. UNICE replied that parts of US business were already
      supporting investment talks to start in Seattle. This
      discussion followed after the EC had briefed business on
      its meetings with the negotiators from the rest of the Quad
      countries (US, Japan and Canada). "Short Minutes of the 4th
      Investment Network meeting," Brussels, 5 October 1999.

   8. The Commission stressed the role they see for the revised
      guidelines "in the  prospect of establishing binding rules
      on investment in the WTO." Symptomatically, UNICE used the
      occasion to protest against one OECD country having
      proposed to move away from the purely non-binding status of
      the guidelines, which could result in "companies being
      dragged in the future in front of quasi-juridical panels of
      the OECD." This resistance against binding guidelines or a
      'naming and shaming' approach stands in stark contrast to
      the lofty claims about their social and environmental
      behaviour made by UNICE and European TNCs in general.
      "Short Minutes of the 4th Investment Network meeting,"
      Brussels, 5 October 1999.

   9. "Short Minutes of the 4th Investment Network meeting,"
      Brussels, 5 October 1999.



   "The business community, uncharacteristically silent for much of
   the week, was clearly unhappy... My feeling is that,
   collectively, you thought that to intervene would be to convince
   the world of what the more extreme representatives of civil
   society were saying: that business interest amounted to proof
   positive that the WTO is a capitalist plot."

   --  European Trade Commissioner, Pascal Lamy about Seattle [1]

   Business kept a low public profile during the WTO summit in
   Seattle and even more so in the months after, despite their deep
   disappointment. Those business groupings that have spoken out
   have done their best to downplay the impacts of the failed WTO
   Ministerial. While waiting for the troubled waters to get
   quieter, business is developing new strategies against the
   movements criticising neoliberal globalisation. Think tanks and
   the PR industry have stepped in to play a major role in the first
   months of post-Seattle corporate politics.

   While US industry groups attacked President Clinton for the
   Seattle "PR disaster," [2] European business continues to build
   its cosy relations with the European Commission. Straight after
   Seattle, George Jacobs, President of the European employers
   confederation, UNICE, praised Commissioner Lamy for his
   "leadership role to build bridges between different WTO member
   views and ensure transparency by involving representatives of
   civil society in the EU delegation." [3] UNICE, which has seven
   working groups on the WTO, continues to work in tandem with the
   EC to garner support for a WTO Millennium Round. Nothing less
   than a comprehensive round, including new issues like investment
   and government procurement, is acceptable to UNICE, stating that
   "a limited package is not worth it for European business." [4]

   In contrast to UNICE, the International Chamber of Commerce's
   (ICC) post-Seattle strategy remains opposed to addressing
   environment and labour issues in the WTO. [5] The ICC has been
   the international business group responding most prominently
   after Seattle, vehemently downplaying the importance of the
   failed summit. The group´s claims that the failed Ministerial has
   not brought trade liberalisation to a halt. Emphasising that
   trade negotiations in the past have often survived temporary
   setbacks, the ICC believes that a comprehensive round is still
   possible, "as negotiations resume next year in a more serene
   atmosphere in Geneva." [6] The ICC wants business to take a lead
   in convincing public opinion to support trade liberalisation and
   sees a role for itself in the offensive against WTO critics, who
   they describe as "highly organised and sophisticated groups that
   for many different reasons are hostile to trade." [7]

   Far more conciliatory were the post-Seattle sound-bytes coming
   out of the World Economic Forum [8] in January. From the Davos
   podium, influential leaders and prominent speakers expressed
   their understanding for the concerns of WTO critics and argued
   for reforms and more inclusive forms of 'global governance'.

   The European Policy Centre, an influential Brussels-based
   think tank, provided a forum for industry to debate and
   reflect on their failings in Seattle. [9] During a number of
   meetings for EPC members, the Seattle events were
   evaluated and plans were made to bring the Millennium
   Round back on track. According to Craig Burchell, from
   Philips and also chairing the EPC's WTO Forum, the anti-
   WTO campaigns are ignorant and media exaggerates their
   importance. [10] The EPC's main advice to the corporate
   world is to improve communication strategies. Corporations
   should "take a more proactive position in relation to trade
   liberalisation" and find better ways of "dealing with the new
   breed of NGOs." [11] The EPC recommends business to
   "provide funding" for organising public debates to improve
   public perception of globalisation and transnational
   corporations and to "curb the activities of extremist NGOs."
   [12] That happens to be exactly the kind of services offered
   by the European Policy Centre, which has already grown out
   to be one of the most active corporate think-tanks currently
   operating in Brussels.

   The public affairs industry is also eager to assist in
   communicating the corporate trade and investment agenda. Global
   PR giant, Edelman, offers to assist corporations with "EU and WTO
   Public Affairs, Media Relations and Crisis Preparedness." [13]
   Washington-based PR company Black, Kelly, Scruggs & Healy
   recently sent its corporate clients a "Guide to the Seattle
   Meltdown: A Compendium of Activists at the WTO Ministerial." [14]
   In an accompanying letter, the companies managing director warns
   against the "potential ability of the emerging coalition of these
   groups to seriously impact broader, longer-term corporate
   interests." The director ends his introduction of the report,
   that describes 48 WTO-critical groups, with advertising his
   company's capability "to defend clients against attacks" from
   these groups. [15]


   1. Speech at the European Institute, Washington, 17
      February 2000

   2. According to Harry L Freeman (Coalition of Service
      Industries) Clinton had not been vocal enough in his
      support for trade liberalisation. "US Business See
      Ministerial as a Setback for Trade Liberalisation",
      International Trade Reporter, 9 December 1999.

   3. UNICE press release, George Jacobs, UNICE President,
      "UNICE Reacts on WTO Seattle Deadlock: No Results Better
      Than Bad Result", Brussels, 7 December 1999.

   4. Ibid.

   5. Drawing lessons from the lost battle around the
      Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI), UNICE is
      willing to accept social and environmental clauses in the
      WTO in the hope to get NGOs to agree on a WTO Millennium
      Round. See "The WTO Millennium Bug", CEObserver Issue 4,
      June 1999.

   6. ICC President Adnan Kassar, "Seattle setback will not hit
      trade liberalisation", The Hindu Business Line,
      10 December 1999.

   7. See also "Davos 2000: 'New Beginnings' for Global
      Capitalism?" in this issue.

   8. See also CEObserver, Issues 2 and 3.

   9. "They know how to exploit the internet to coordinate their
      lobbying and are adept at winning media attention."

  10. A personal report on the Seattle Ministerial by Craig
      Burchell (Senior Trade Representative of Philips
      Electronics, and Chairman of the EPC's WTO Forum):
      "The Seattle Ministerial: What Happened", 30 Nov - 3 Dec
      1999. Posted on EPC website:

      N.B. In 1997, when Philips CEO Jan Timmer was TABD EU
      chair, his sherpa, Craig Burchell, was co-chair of the TABD
      Steering Committee.

  11. Ibid.

  12. Stanley Crossick, EPC Chairman, "Seattle: The Business
      Fall-Out", 23 December 1999.

  13. Edelman Europe advertisement in the European Voice,
      24 February - 1 March 2000, page 26.

  14. This guide by Black, Kelly, Scruggs & Healy, cover letter
      dated January 14 2000 was leaked to activists and posted
      on the "N30" anti-WTO email list. The report seems the
      result of a few hours of visiting websites of a fairly
      random selection of groups that campaigned against the WTO
      Millennium Round.

  15. Ibid.



   The air was full of 'Seattle' when some 2,000 industrialists,
   politicians and other self-proclaimed 'global leaders' met for
   the 30th World Economic Forum (WEF), in the Swiss ski resort,
   Davos, in January. The international media eagerly speculated
   whether the anti-WEF demonstration organised by Swiss anti-WTO
   activists would turn into a 'second Seattle'. The perceived
   backlash against globalisation and how to respond to it was one
   of the main themes of this years' forum, along with the internet

   As neoliberal economist and WEF veteran, Paul Krugman, recently
   put it, the 'Davos Man' has "an image problem. One that threatens
   the process of the globalisation for which they stand." [1]
   Conveniently, the WEF is all about promoting new common
   discourses for the global elite, including joint responses to
   whatever challenges they might face. Not only to give the
   assembled politicians and corporate elite a pleasant feeling of
   common direction, [2] but also to get the message distributed
   around the world through the international mega-media which was
   well represented in Davos. The discourse emanating from the
   carefully orchestrated debates and workshops of this year's WEF
   is that globalisation is the only viable strategy, but needs a
   'human face'. Markets should be liberalised and globalised, but
   this should be combined with self-regulation and philanthropy by
   business and a more consensus-seeking model of 'global
   governance', including developing country governments and
   'constructive' NGOs. This, in short, is the WEF's post-Seattle
   recipe to make neoliberal globalisation a more palatable
   development model. [3]

   The WEF organisers, lead by Klaus Schwab, showed how experienced
   they are in selling new images to the world. In the days before
   the start of the Davos events, articles by Schwab and WEF
   Director Schmadja appeared in international newspapers and
   magazines warning against the backlash caused by "globalization
   running amok." [4] After the internal disputes between North and
   South at the WTO Ministerial in Seattle, Schwab and Smadja called
   for a more inclusive approach and for "new multilateral
   structures for global governance" with enough credibility and
   legitimacy." [5] Schwab proposed "close cooperation between
   government, business and civil society" and for "flexible
   networks, where you put together governments, international
   organizations and business to look at the new issues on the
   global agenda." [6] Smadja in another article argued that in
   order to prevent the backlash, "social, psychological and ethical
   dimensions must be integrated into the globalization process."
   [7] After last year's slogan, 'Responsible Globality', the
   organisers must have really stretched their minds to come up with
   the even more feel-good title "New Beginnings: Making a
   Difference" -- quite a jump from the undiluted neoliberal slogans
   of earlier years, like the 1996 slogan -- "Strengthening

   'Davos Men' About 'Seattle People'

   Political leaders like Tony Blair and Bill Clinton in their WEF
   speeches, paid lip- service to what they generously described as
   legitimate concerns of the Seattle demonstrators, but continued
   to defend the launch of a new WTO round to achieve further trade
   liberalisation. [8] Clinton stated that "trade can no longer be
   the private province of politicians, CEOs and trade experts," an
   ironic message in light of the elitist audience he was
   addressing. 1,200 business leaders were present there, all from
   companies with a minimum turnover of US$1 billion and each having
   paid a personal entry fee of typically US$20,000. Clinton asked
   the business leaders to "develop a joint vision for the next
   10-20 years," but not to "leave the little people out." [9]
   Mexican president Zedillo launched a fierce attack on the
   WTO-critics, who he accused of suffering from "globaphobia" and
   only wanting to prevent economic development in the South. [10]

   Among the speakers from business, some played 'good cop', others
   'bad cop'. Louis Schweitzer of Renault warned that " a purely
   free-market economy is like allowing a fox free into the
   henhouse." [11] Lewis B. Campbell, CEO of Textron, called
   "supporters of free trade" to build an international coalition
   sufficient to push the cause of globalisation," in order not to
   loose "the propaganda war... The international business community
   must take the lead,", said Campbell, who referred to NAFTA, which
   happened because business mobilised for it. [12]

   Also a part of the post-Seattle image-building was the handful of
   workshops on corporate social and environmental accountability
   that took place during the WEF. Time Magazine and Newsweek (with
   strong financial links to the WEF) in their previews on Davos
   focused on how corporations respond to consumer pressure and want
   to be seen as 'good global citizens'. [13] Time Magazine printed
   a full-page appeal by ABB's CEO Goran Lindahl, prominent WEF
   participant but himself responsible for serious corporate abuses,
   for TNCs to "make protecting human rights a priority." [14]

   Journalist Will Hutton of the London Observer who attended the
   WEF was not impressed, noting that the workshops on business
   ethics tended to be poorly attended. "The 'hard' conversations
   are about how to maximise shareholder value and how to be a
   winner in the new economy," he concluded. [15] Despite the many
   gestures to signal change (like planting trees to compensate for
   the CO2 emissions involved in flying the 'Davos Men' in) Hutton
   saw little real change. "The balloon of complacency and belief
   that the Davos consensus is almost unimprovable is so huge that
   it would take an intellectual atom bomb along with gigantic riots
   to effect any change." [16]

   The messages from the WEF were transmitted to the outside world
   through the 650 journalists that were allowed to cover the event.
   WEF media participants are not only meticulously selected
   (alternative media is not welcome and journalists who have
   criticised the WEF are rarely invited again), most of them only
   have restricted access and base their reports on "reams of
   handouts, session summaries and the snatches of the proceedings
   they watched on live, closed-circuit TV," in the words of Danny
   Schlechter of the media-critical Media Channel. [17] Luxurious
   dinners paid for by Coca-Cola were to keep these media workers
   happy. [18]

   A Seat at the Table in Davos?

   Another move to improve the image of the 'Davos Man' was to
   invite NGO representatives, some of which are known as 'Seattle
   people'. While Schwab has already for some years handpicked a
   handful of leaders of mainstream global NGOs such as Greenpeace
   and Amnesty International, the presence of Martin Khor and
   Vandana Shiva of Third World Network was the result of demands by
   the NGO initiative 'Public Eye on Davos'. This project to
   "monitor the World Economic Forum" was setup by the Swiss Berne
   Declaration and supported by over 150 NGOs who signed a joint
   statement. [19] 'Public Eye on Davos' demanded the WEF to
   "radically change its perspectives, rules and proceedings,"
   improve transparency and increase NGO participation. [20] WEF
   boss Klaus Schwab responded by inviting six NGO people from a
   list of 20 candidates and accepting an invitation for a public
   debate. [21]

   In the debate, Schwab was full of praise for the NGOs, stating
   that "dialogue is what Davos is all about." [22] The WEF, Schwab
   claimed, is "the only platform in the world that can look at all
   challenges and ensure an integrated view." Not everybody is
   welcome, however. When asked about the demands made by 'Public
   Eye on Davos' and whether he would double the number of NGO
   participants next year, Schwab replied that only "people who can
   make a conceptual presentation" and have "capacity for dialogue"
   would be invited. [23] These are the kinds of people which Schwab
   sees playing a role in the "global policy networks" between
   governments, business and NGOs he envisages can deliver
   legitimacy and consensus for 'responsible globalisation' and
   'global governance'. Inside the WEF, there were several workshops
   looking at the role of NGOs and how business should respond to
   the increased scrutiny from campaign groups. [24]

   Several journalists at the press conference of the 'Public Eye on
   Davos' asked critical questions about the 'Public Eye on Davos'
   strategy of reforming and democratising the WEF. Is a democratic
   WEF imaginable? Were the NGOs taking part in the WEF not being
   co-opted and did their participation not dilute the critical
   message? Walden Bello, one of the NGO representatives who
   experienced the WEF from the inside, afterwards concluded, "we
   should not try to reform Davos, but we should expose and ridicule
   and challenge the dangerous and undemocratic self-importance of
   Davos and the people who go there." [25] This mirrors the opinion
   of the estimated 2,000 demonstrators, mainly from Switzerland,
   France and Italy, who managed to take over the central streets of
   Davos for most of an afternoon despite a massive police and
   military presence. [26] Their protest was not for increased NGO
   participation but against global elites meeting to chart out the
   future for the rest of the world -- regardless of how "committed
   to improving the state of the world" these 'global leaders' claim
   to be. [27]


   1. "'Davos Man' Needs to Resolve an Image Problem",
      International Herald Tribune, January 24th, 2000. Krugman's
      'Davos Man' image captures very well the extreme gender
      bias of the event: this year more than 90% of the
      participants were men. The Swiss Wochenzeitung noted that
      also the group of six NGO participants at the WEF selected
      by 'Public Eye on Davos' was male dominated, with five men
      and one woman. "Wirtschaftsforum: Es geht nicht nur um
      Oekonomie", Wochenzeitung 3 February 2000.

   2. For many participants, an important part of going to Davos
      is the informal talks and the deal-making which takes place
      elsewhere in the conference centre and in hotel lobbies. A
      Swiss CEO claimed to have planned more than twenty smaller
      meetings in the three days he was in Davos. Being able to
      meet so many corporate and political leaders in such a
      short time saves weeks of travel time. One of the reasons
      for corporations to pay the additional US$200,000 and
      become "WEF Partners" is to be the first to receive the
      full final list of WEF participants: crucial privilege for
      the intense race of making the most worthwhile appointments
      for the 5-day event. "Scharf Beobachtete Begegnungen",
      Wochenzeitung, 30 January 2000.

   3. The five days of World Economic Forum featured some
      350 workshops, including titles such as:
      - "Is Globalisation for Everybody?",
      - "Strategies to Fight the Globalisation Trap",
      - "It's Not the Economy, It's the Society",
      - "Global governance in the 21st Century".

   4. "We Need Structures to Help Steer Globalization", Klaus
      Schwab and Claude Smadja, International Herald Tribune,
      24 January 2000.

   5. Ibid.

   6. "The world is so complex that we cannot create some kind of
      all-encompassing business-government organization. It would
      lack democratic legitimacy."
      WEF website: <>

   7. Tony Blair stressed the need to win over "the sincere and
      well-motivated opponents of the WTO agenda." Source:
      "That's snowbizz", Financial Times, 29 January 2000.

   8. As the last speaker in a plenary debate about international
      trade, Zedillo was given three times as long to speak as
      the other speakers and his speech was distributed in
      printed format by WEF hostesses. Die Weltwoche, 3 Feb 2000.

   9. WEF press release 29 January 2000.

  10. Clinton responded to Schwab's question on what he
      most wanted to ask the 1,000 most powerful CEOs who
      were in the room. Clinton also told the business leaders
      that "when good people have a shared vision, all works
      well. Collectively, you can change the world."

  11. Ibid.

  12. "It's the Society, Stupid," Time Magazine, 31 January 2000.

  13. "Ubiquity and its Burdens," Newsweek, 31 January 2000.

  14. "A New Role for Global Businesses," Time Magazine,
      31 January 2000. ABB specialises in building and running
      nuclear, fossil fuel and hydroelectric power plants around
      the world. Particularly controversial is ABB's involvement
      in the planned Three Gorges Project in China and the Bakun
      Dam in Malaysia (now postponed), both of which would result
      in massive forced resettlement of local people.

  15. According to Hutton, "the voices arguing that corporations
      need to behave ethically, and socially responsible and with
      an eye on environmental sustainability are the weakest in
      the weakest in the 11 years I have been coming here."
      Source: "Greed is Good, Too Good to be True", Will Hutton,
      The Observer, 30 January 2000.

  16. Ibid.

  17. The WEF has a strict hierarchy of badges and only few
      correspondents with a name get the 'all access' white
      badges and are full participants of the Forum. A category
      higher is the group of editors and columnists with the
      label "media leaders" who take part in panel debates.
      Finally, a whole different clan are Rupert Murdoch, Michael
      Bloomberg and other CEOs of media corporations who were in
      Davos to promote their business. "At the Top Of the World:
      Covering the World Economic Forum -- How the Goliaths of
      Globalization Groom the Media", Danny Schechter,
      3 February 2000, <>

  18. Ibid. There was also a special media dinner with US
      trade negotiator Charlene Barshefsky and US Treasury
      Secretary Larry Summers.

  19. See website of the 'Public Eye on Davos'

  20. The 'Public Eye on Davos' NGO Statement.

  21. The other four were Walden Bello, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz,
      Brent Blackwelder and Manuel Chiriboga. Other NGO
      representatives at this year's WEF included David Bryer of
      Oxfam, Ed Mayo of the New Economics Foundation, Kenneth
      Roth of Human Rights Watch and Pierre Sane of Amnesty
      International. Trade unions were represented by John J.
      Sweeney (AFL-CIO), Bill Jordan (ICFTU), John Monks (TUC),
      Emilio Gabaglio (ETUC) and others.

  22. Public debate organised by 'Public Eye on Davos',
      29 January 2000.

  23. Ibid. Some of the NGOs invited for the WEF seem to have
      strong confidence in Schwab's capacity to select.
      Greenpeace CEO Thilo Bode, who spoke at four WEF panels,
      even distanced himself from the Public Eye initiative.
      "People who have something to say will also be invited,"
      Bode told a Swiss newspaper. "Draussen, drinnen, auf der
      Strasse," Die Weltwoche, 3 February 2000.

  24. Including workshops titled:
      - "In Search of Robin Hood",
      - "NGO: Foes or Partners in the Global Agenda?",
      - "A New Big Brother is Watching You: What the Grassroots
        NGO is Thinking".

  25. Focus on Trade, Number 45, February 2000.

  26. The regional authorities had banned the demonstration and
      only few had expected that the police would let people
      move away from the station square. After walking a
      kilometre or so down the main street the police blocked the
      street with their vans and fences. On the way, a McDonalds
      branch had its windows smashed and a huge McDonalds banner
      was taken down from a wall and burned. It had an image of a
      hamburger and the provoking slogan: "Think Globally, Eat

  27. "The World Economic Forum is an independent organization
      committed to improving the state of the world." The WEF
      about itself on <>



   On the 28th of January, the UN launched a website on its
   controversial 'Global Compact' with major transnational
   corporations. [1] Since its launch last year, the Global Compact
   has been criticised for giving corporations a free ride, by being
   able to use this UN seal of approval to improve their public
   image, without corresponding tangible changes in their overall
   corporate social, environmental or human rights behaviour. The
   new website confirms this picture.  Even the previously announced
   pledges by corporations, which were to be posted on the website
   to allow monitoring by NGOs, are absent.

   The Global Compact consists of a list of very general principles
   for corporate social, environmental and human rights behaviour.
   The UN in return commits to support the business agenda for
   continued moves towards global "free trade". The Compact is not
   binding and lacks any real enforcement and monitoring mechanisms.
   In July 1999, the UN told the international media that a
   UN-sponsored website would be launched to present "the specific
   pledges made by multinational corporations and allow independent
   aid groups and non-governmental organisations to publicly
   challenge companies if they do not abide by the substance of
   these pledges." [2] The launch of the website -- the only
   concrete element of the Global Compact -- was to happen in the
   Autumn (an ILO conference in early November was one of the missed
   deadlines), but it was postponed time and again. [3]

   When the website was launched in January, the promised references
   to individual corporations or pledges they have made were
   painfully absent. This undoubtedly has to do with the fact that
   as of this writing, no individual corporation has committed
   itself to the Global Compact, despite its non- binding character.
   The corporate partners mentioned on the website are all business
   associations, such as the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)
   and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development
   (WBCSD). Their 'partnership' has no binding effects for the
   individual corporations which are members of these groupings. [4]
   NGO partners include Amnesty International, World Wide Fund for
   Nature , Human Rights Watch, the World Resources Institute and
   three other lesser known groups. [5] The International
   Confederation of Free Trade Union's (ICFTU) is also involved,
   representing labour. For the rest, the website consists of the
   text of the Global Compact, a selective overview of academic
   literature on globalisation and on industry self-regulation as
   well as a news section with media reports on corporate
   accountability issues.

   The UN website was launched at the occasion of the World Economic
   Forum (WEF), the annual gathering of the global business and
   political elite in Davos, Switzerland where UN Secretary General
   Annan also first proposed the Global Compact a year earlier. [6]
   This year, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson
   was present at the WEF, taking part in a debate about business
   and human rights. [7]

   The UN website came almost three months after the International
   Chamber of Commerce (ICC) launched its own website on the Global
   Compact. The ICC website consists of a collection of reports on
   various isolated environmental and human rights initiatives by
   the likes of BP-Amoco, Fiat, Unilever and other corporations that
   are involved in the ICC. While the ICC is eagerly using the
   Global Compact to promote a positive image of transnational
   corporate behaviour, it remains strongly opposed to enforceable
   rules, claiming that self-regulation will make its members
   responsible 'global corporate citizens'.

   'Citizens Compact': Enforceable UN Rules for Corporate Behaviour

   On the same day as the UN Global Compact website was announced, a
   "Citizens Compact on the UN and Corporations" was launched. More
   than 100 organisations from North and South have signed on to
   this statement, which is a fundamental critique of the Global
   Compact. Instead of 'partnership' between the UN and corporations
   (among which many have controversial social and environmental
   records) the Citizens Compact demands that the UN develops
   internationally enforceable rules for corporate behaviour.

   To sign on to the Citizens Compact on the UN and
   Corporations, please visit <>

   The UN's website on the Global Compact can be found at

   For the ICC's Global Compact website, go to


   1. See Corporate Europe Observer, Issue 5 for background.

   2. Business Backs Trade Role for UN. The Guardian, 6 July

   3. 4 November 1999 in Geneva at the International Labour
      Organisation (ILO) Enterprise Forum. Letter from Jessica
      Jiji, UN Information Officer, 24 September 1999.

   4. Apart from the ICC and the WBCSD, also the International
      Organisation of Employers (IOE) and eight other business
      associations are official Global Compact partners. Other
      business partners include Business for Social
      Responsibility (BSR), the Conference Board, the Prince of
      Wales Business Leaders Forum (PWBLF), the European Business
      Network for Social Cohesion (EBNSC), the International
      Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Agency
      (IPIECA), Enterprises pour l'Environnement, the
      International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC)
      and the International Fertiliser Industry Association (IFA).

   5. Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, Ethod and Fundaçăo
      Abrinq pelos Direitos da Criança.

   6. For more on the World Economic Forum, see the article
      "Davos 2000: 'New Beginnings' for Global Capitalism?",
      elsewhere in this issue.

   7. UNHCR used the WEF to present its new paper "Business
      and Human Rights: A Progress Report", see


   The Citizens' Compact on the UN and Corporations rejects the idea
   of 'partnership' between UN agencies and corporations and
   outlines some strict criteria to avoid inappropriate joint
   projects between the UN and business. The need for such rules
   once again became clear when the news broke about a new
   UN-business body called the Business Humanitarian Forum (BHF).
   The Geneva-based BHF brings together UN institutions and
   corporations, many with a poor social and environmental record.
   Its first meeting in January 1999, in a luxury hotel in Geneva,
   was "to focus on ways to improve communication and cooperation
   between global corporations and humanitarian organisations in
   their common efforts to promote the stability and well-being of
   countries likely to be affected or affected by conflict and
   natural disaster." [1]

   The BHF is co-chaired by UN High Commissioner for Refugees
   (UNHCR) Sadako Ogata and John Imle President of UNOCAL, an oil
   company known for human rights violations in Burma. Also UNICEF
   is in the BHF, with Nestlé, a company stubbornly continuing to
   violate the UN's code of conduct on infant formula -- the
   International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes.
   Suez-Lyonnnaise des Eaux, Rio Tinto and ICI are other
   controversial corporate members, not to speak of United
   Technologies Corporation, the largest military contractor in the
   world. This did not seem to disturb Kofi Annan, who sent an
   encouraging message to the founding meeting of the BHF, stressing
   the UN's newly found positive attitude to business. [2] NGOs
   involved in the BHF include the International Rescue Committee,
   Save the Children, Care USA and the Red Cross. [3]

   In September, the Transnational Resource and Action Centre (TRAC)
   and numerous other groups called on UN High Commissioner for
   Refugees Sadako Ogata and UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy
   to resign from the BHF. [4] Protests against joint UN-business
   projects can be effective, as was shown when the UNDP put its
   Global Sustainable Development Facility (GSDF) in the freezer.
   [5] The UNDP decided for 'a review' of the project after
   continued critique by a global coalition of groups led by TRAC.

   For more information, check TRAC's Corporate Watch website:


   1. UN press release "Business-Humanitarian Forum holds first
      meeting," Geneva, Switzerland, 27 January 1999.

   2. "The United Nations has developed a profound appreciation
      for the role of the private sector: its expertise, its
      innovative spirit, its unparalleled ability to create jobs
      and wealth," Annan wrote. The Secretary-General, Message to
      the Business Humanitarian Forum, Geneva, 27 January 1999.

   3. BHF participants' list.

   4. TRAC press release, 23 September 1999, "Groups Expose
      More United Nations Affiliations with Corporate Predators."

   5. See CEObserver, Issue 3 for background on the GDSF.


                    GUIDE TO 'GERMANY, INC.'

   "Germany Inc., the protective net of cross-shareholdings and
   government regulations that has long shielded the country from
   the cruel tide of globalisation, is dead." [1]

   Business Week, 21 February 2000

   Relations between business and politics in Germany has been
   international news in the last months. This is not only because
   of the illegal business donations which have brought the
   Christian Democratic party into a deep crisis, but also the
   political controversy around the hostile take-over of Mannesmann
   AG by UK-based Vodaphone and the government rescue plan for the
   crisis-ridden Holzmann corporation. [2] The Financial Times
   describes the hostile take-over of Mannesmann AG (the first of
   its kind in Germany and much criticised by German trade unions,
   politicians and media) as "a landmark in Germany's momentous
   journey towards a different model of capitalism." [3] Due to
   economic globalisation and the single currency, "the rules of the
   post-war German settlement between capital and labour are being
   radically rewritten from the outside," the newspaper continued,
   "to the advantage of shareholders." [4] Wim Duisenberg, president
   of the European Central Bank, lead the choir criticising the
   Schröder government's rescue of Holzmann AG (and thousands of
   jobs) as the last twitching of old-fashioned government
   interference in the workings of global market forces. Duisenberg
   even accused Schröder of being co- responsible for the declining
   rate of the euro as the government intervention "does not enhance
   the image that we want to have of being an increasingly
   market-driven economy across the euro area." [5]

   A timely and illuminating guide to "Germany, Inc." and the social
   and political impacts of its ongoing transformation is
   Johann-Gunther König's book "Alle Macht den Konzerne -- Das
   neue Europa im Griff der Lobbyisten" ("All Power to the
   Corporations -- the New Europe in the Grip of the Lobbyists"),
   released in April 1999 by the German publisher Rowohlt. While
   focusing on the recent changes, König's book is far from
   nostalgic. It starts with an overview of the history of
   corporate Germany, including the support of German industry
   (but also US corporations) for the nazi regime. [7] In his
   portrait of post-war German industry, König describes the
   outrageous degree of concentration of economic power in the
   hands of a small number of corporations and individuals. Major
   German corporations and banks own large blocks of each others
   shares and it is common for German industrialists to be in the
   advisory boards of a number of other, 'competing' corporations.
   Particularly the powerful role of Deutsche Bank through its
   ownership of large parts of many of the largest German
   corporations is astonishing.

   Economic globalisation has made the concept of 'German' companies
   a more and more diffuse one. Companies headquartered in Germany,
   such as DaimlerChrysler, BASF, Bayer, have grown out to be some
   of the largest 'global players'. [8] Production and sales in
   Germany is becoming less and less important for these
   corporations, who can shift production from one place to another
   in search for the most profitable investment climate and access
   new markets around the world. Ownership is internationalising
   rapidly too, as particularly US and UK investors buy up shares.
   The growing power of US and UK investors increases the pressure
   for higher and higher returns to shareholders. [9] The pursuit of
   'shareholder value', König shows, has made German corporations
   accelerate downsizing and relocation to lower-cost countries and
   led to worsened working conditions (longer working hours,
   increased work pressure, etc.). König strongly warns against the
   new corporate culture and its ideal of the 'flexible' (but
   essentially conformist) human being, always ready to adapt to the
   demands of both the markets and those holding political power
   (captured well by König in the untranslatable German term
   "leistungsbewuste mitlaufer").

   König describes how the empowerment of the markets has caused a
   growing social crisis in Germany. Profits and CEO salaries are
   skyrocketing, while the pressure on wages is downwards. [10] The
   employees' share of total income has never been lower in the
   history of the German federal republic, while capital has
   increased its share from 24% in 1980 to 40% in 1997. Because of
   business-friendly tax policies and tax evasion, corporations
   bring in only 15% of the total tax income, against 25% 20 years

   One of the main causes behind the accelerated competition and
   downwards pressure on corporate taxes, working conditions and
   social protection in Germany and the rest of the EU, König
   argues, is the European single market. König describes the
   increased concentration of economic power in virtually all
   sectors of the new European economy (supermarkets, tourism,
   media, banking, computers, etc.). A result of the intense race to
   attract foreign investments is the emergence of free trade zones
   (such as New Park near Munich), a phenomena until recently known
   mainly from Central America and East Asia.

   König concludes that corporate political power has reached
   unprecedented levels, both in Germany and on the European Union
   level. Almost 1,700 professional lobbyists are registered in the
   German capital Bonn (now Berlin), but their activities are only
   the tip of the iceberg of corporate involvement in German
   politics. One third of all German MPs have side jobs with
   interest groups and 'revolving doors' between politics and
   industry is commonplace in Germany.

   The ongoing transfer of decision-making to Brussels does not make
   things better, König argues. He presents numerous examples of how
   German industry has promoted its interests through the
   'bureaucratic-industrial complex' in Brussels, in which the
   European Commission plays a key role and particularly the
   extremely industry-friendly Directorate- General III (previously
   industry, now enterprise). König sees the lack of critical media
   monitoring Brussels, the absence of a European public debate and
   the understaffed European Commission as the main reasons for the
   excessive power of lobbyists in EU decision-making.

   While it would not in itself be a problem if the old nation
   states would disappear, the way it happens is disastrous.
   Democratic decision-making is increasingly crowded out by market
   forces and governments face growing problems with regulating
   corporations. The crucial question, König concludes, is how to
   re-empower social movements. He calls for a 'second struggle for
   democracy', this time on the global level, but has most of his
   hopes set on the revival of the trade union movement on the
   European level. In light of his sharp critique of corporate power
   in Germany and Europe, König is surprisingly uncritical of the
   euro-corporatist European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) which
   has failed to confront neoliberal policies of the EU throughout
   the 90's. König also fails to mention more inspiring new
   initiatives like the European marches against unemployment and
   poverty and other international activist solidarity networks.
   König's book contains a wealth of essential analysis, but a
   comprehensive agenda for rolling back corporate power is
   unfortunately lacking.


   1. "Auf Wiedersehen, Germany Inc.", Business Week,
      21 February 2000.

   2. Bankruptcy seemed unavoidable for the large construction
      company Holzmann AG, but the Schröder government saved
      it in November 1999 with a rescue package of DM 2.3
      billion. UK-based Vodafone took over the high-tech company
      Mannesmann AG in order to get its profitable D-2 cell-phone
      network, while planning to sell off the rest off the
      company. German newspapers protested that "thousands of
      jobs are destroyed, just because international investors
      want to make a short-term profit" (Die Welt, quoted in Wall
      Street Journal Europe, 22 November 1999). Chancellor
      Schröder stated that "hostile take-overs are never
      helpful," but the take-over proceeded (Wall Street Journal
      Europe, 22 November 1999).

   3. "Whirlwinds of change," February 2000.

   4. Ibid.

   5. Wall Street Journal Europe, 7 December 1999.

   6. "Auf Wiedersehen, Germany Inc.", Business Week, 21 February
      2000. "German companies now have to compete in Europe's
      huge, single capital market," increasing the "pressure to
      maximise returns."

   7. Ford and General Motors gave financial and technological
      support to the Nazis and continued producing from factories
      in Germany during the Second World War.

   8. Siemens is active in over 150 countries and has German-
      speaking staff in more countries than there are German
      embassies and consulates.

   9. In the Anglo-Saxon countries, shareholders returns are
      traditionally substantially higher than in Germany and
      other European countries.

  10. Whereas corporate profits doubled between 1980 and 1997,
      the net income of German employees grew only 1.5%.



   Corporate Europe Observatory hosted its first-ever gathering of
   campaigners, researchers and journalists working on the subject
   of corporate power from the 15th to the 17th of October 1999.
   Most of the participants were interested not only in the economic
   impacts of large corporations, but also in political power and
   access to various national and international decision-makers and
   institutions by TNCs. The meeting, entitled 'European Strategy
   Session on Corporate Power', was organised by the Spanish
   contingent of CEO and took place in the beautiful Andalusian city
   of Córdoba.

   Kicking Off

   The first day of the meeting was spent setting up a framework for
   discussions with examples of various manifestations of corporate
   power, in particular in the political realm. Several case studies
   on the role of large corporations in different European countries
   were presented. Axel Koehler-Schnura from the German Critical
   Shareholders organisation and Coordination Against Bayer-Dangers
   explained the sordid history of the German chemical industry and
   its current intimate relationship with the government. Tarjei
   Leer-Salvesen from Norwatch described the situation in Norway,
   where a large percentage of industry is state-owned and
   corporate CEOs are often appointed by the government. Juraj
   Zamokovsky from the Centre for Environmental Public
   Advocacy/Friends of the Earth Slovakia related the polarisation
   in his country between old-style communists and free-market
   supporters, who are associated with democracy and have greater
   public support.

   Corporate power on the European Union level was the next subject
   taken up. Mikael Nyberg from Sweden provided a history of
   corporate lobby groups in the EU, beginning with the influential
   European Roundtable of Industrialists (ERT), and described the
   intimate relationship between corporate CEOs and Brussels
   decision-makers. In the following discussion, examples were given
   of lobby efforts conducted by industrial sectors including the
   automobile, pharmaceutical, fisheries and oil industries, and the
   work of the public relations sector on their behalf.

   CEO's own Erik Wesselius delved into the Transatlantic Business
   Dialogue as an example of an influential corporate- state
   alliance. This alliance between EU and US industries and
   governments is geared towards the creation of a transatlantic
   marketplace by the elimination of barriers to trade. Juan López
   de Uralde of Greenpeace International pointed out that the TABD
   was responsible for killing an EU directive on the banning of
   toys made of toxic PVC materials, and that the Business Dialogue
   is interested not only in defeating technical measures but also
   in eliminating pro- environment guidelines such as the
   precautionary principle.

   Tony Clarke from the Polaris Institute in Canada and Antonio
   Tujan from the IBON Foundation in the Philippines presented the
   World Trade Organisation as an example of an institution that
   reinforces corporate power. Tony explained how the WTO is a
   corporate-driven process, with a strong symbiosis between
   business and state in each of the four main driving political
   blocs behind the institution (the EU, the US, Japan and Canada).
   The defeated Multilateral Agreement on Investment was given as
   another example of a corporate-led initiative to secure
   investment rights for TNCs in developing countries. Antonio
   exploded some of the myths surrounding free trade, pointing out
   that two-thirds of world trade is between corporations. The
   ensuing discussion covered issues ranging from the attachment of
   social and environmental clauses to trade agreements (it was felt
   that this only enhances corporate power) and corporate codes of
   conduct (which are often only 'window dressing' for TNCs to
   appear more responsible).

   Ramón Fernández Durán from the Spanish Ecologistas in Acción
   provided an explanation of how markets are deregulated via the
   International Monetary Fund and how financial institutions and
   TNCs profit from this arrangement. The ensuing discussion touched
   on issues including the proposed creation of a private sector
   advisory board to the IMF and the importance of targeting
   investment and pension funds in our campaigns.

   Next, Judith Richter, Claudia Peter and Eveline Lubbers addressed
   the subject of corporate public relations. Claudia amplified on
   the recent emergence of 'astroturf' lobbying, artificial
   grassroots campaigns waged by TNCs, often with deceptive titles
   such as the incineration-promoting 'Waste Watchers' group in
   Germany. Eveline presented some examples of counter-strategies by
   corporations, including co- optation, greenwashing,
   divide-and-rule and dialogue. The latter, initiated by companies
   with the advice of external PR consultants, is a corporate
   strategy to avoid embarrassing conflict and unflattering media
   coverage. The 'dialogue' issue re-emerged throughout the meeting.
   During the following discussion, several participants mentioned
   that certain PR companies, including Burson-Marsteller, are
   already being targeted by activist groups.

   Moving Ahead

   The second day of the meeting was partially devoted to sharing
   strategies for challenging corporate power. A number of
   participants provided presentations on their campaigning against
   specific TNCs and corporate lobby groups. Tarjei Leer- Salvesen
   of Norwatch described how his organisation is a corporate
   watchdog, keeping tabs on the activities of Norwegian-based TNCs
   and publicising any negative or destructive practices to the
   media and the public. Axel Koehler-Schnura of the Critical
   Shareholders Association in Germany described the strategy of
   purchasing shares in order to gain access to corporate
   decision-making processes.  He warned that this form of pressure
   has its limitations -- fundamental change is not possible as the
   underlying principle of profit-making can not be changed by
   shareholder actions. Marc Gavaldá of Red Petrolera in Spain spoke
   about campaigning on oil companies active in the Amazon. He
   explained how international financial institutions including the
   World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank pave the way for
   corporate penetration by promoting neoliberal legal systems and
   privatisation. Antonio Tujan from the IBON Foundation in the
   Philippines discussed the Asia Pacific Research Network, which
   organises conferences and trainings and puts out publications on
   various trade-related issues for groups in the region.

   In the following discussions, several other examples of
   strategies were presented and critiqued. It was pointed out that
   although consumer action is important, public confusion can also
   be created between mainstream businesses like the Body Shop and
   true fair trade products. The effects of a Northern-based
   consumer boycott on child labour in Bangladesh was also described
   -- children were forced out of the factories and into
   prostitution, as the fundamental problem of families needing
   income was not resolved. The importance and difficulty of
   building alliances with the labour movement was also discussed.

   In a second round of presentations, Greg Muttitt of Corporate
   Watch in the UK spoke about the use of non-violent direct action
   to challenge corporate power, giving the examples of the massive
   resistance against road-building schemes in the UK and campaigns
   against genetic engineering which range from approaching shoppers
   in supermarkets to uprooting genetically-manipulated crops. He
   also mentioned some of the drawbacks of this type of campaigning,
   including unpredictability, heavy dependence on large numbers of
   activists and the media, and the tendency for the movement to be
   largely white and middle class. Tarjei mentioned that the success
   of the UK anti-GE food campaigns had spilled over to Norway,
   where the government was scared off from introducing test fields.

   Eveline Lubbers of Jansen & Jansen in the Netherlands gave a
   presentation on net activism and tactical media. She present the
   McSpotlight website (an anti-McDonald's site) [1] as a good
   example of this type of campaigning. For activists, the Internet
   has opened up many possibilities due to freedom of information
   and the ease with which information can be spread. It was pointed
   out however that the Internet is not without faults, ranging from
   surveillance possibilities and its misuse by fascist and other
   groups, to the elitist and exclusive nature of the technology

   Amit Srivastava from TRAC in the US talked about campaigns
   challenging corporate power in the United States and the need to
   be inclusive. One of the biggest challenges is making the link
   between community organising and global campaigns; whereas
   grassroots organisers and affected communities tend to be people
   of colour, anti-globalisation activists are generally white,
   middle-class men. Tony Juniper of Friends of the Earth gave an
   example of campaigning for environmental justice in the UK
   through FoE's FactoryWatch website which allows people to
   identify sources of pollution close to their homes. Juraj
   Zamkovsky of FoE Slovakia spoke about campaigning against dam
   building in Central and Eastern Europe, where more than 40
   villages inhabited by some 25,000 people have been forcibly
   relocated in the past decades. Corporate tactics to promote the
   dams have included manipulating the public through media
   campaigns, public meetings where false compensation promises were
   given, manipulative public opinion polls, and various tactics to
   weaken the resistance of affected communities. FoE Slovakia
   provides communities with the tools to identify and fight against
   these corporate tactics.

   Tony Clarke from the Polaris Institute and the International
   Forum on Globalization related some experiences from the MAI
   campaigns which ended in success. From the beginning, the MAI was
   clearly defined as a corporate rule treaty, which helped when
   presenting arguments to the press and public. Campaigns were
   built country-by-country, and the Internet was a very useful tool
   for spreading information. Finally, alternatives to the MAI were
   defined by campaigners. Helen Holder of A SEED Europe spoke about
   campaigning against the biotech industry, and provided several
   parallels to the anti-MAI campaign. Again, the opposition was
   clear and had consensus on the undesirability of GM food, action
   methods spread quickly from the UK to other countries and media
   interest followed, and there was a clear alternative in organic

   Tony Juniper of Friends of the Earth presented the campaign
   against the Global Climate Coalition (GCC), a front group of oil,
   automobile and energy companies that lobbied the Kyoto climate
   negotiations. The strategy involved pressuring one member
   company, in this case Shell, to step out of the GCC. In the
   campaign, "Shell" was transformed into "hell", Shell "demons"
   stood at gas stations with placards, and there was a large
   demonstration outside of Shell's 100th anniversary celebration in
   1997. In the end, Shell did leave the GCC, and public awareness
   about the GCC was raised.

   Olivier Hoedeman relayed the example of how CEO targeted
   corporate lobby groups by writing to companies active in groups
   like the European Roundtable of Industrialists and the
   International Chamber of Commerce and requesting information
   about their political activities. [2] Of those that responded,
   most companies denied having political activities, or highlighted
   only their activities in so-called "green" industry lobby groups.

   The following discussion resulted in several ideas to clarify
   the membership of companies in political lobby groups,
   including a directory of corporate membership in lobby
   groups, and Tony Clarke provided an example of a poster
   made about the Canadian Business Council on National
   Issues with photos of all of the corporate CEOs. It was
   wondered whether or not it was strategic to target individual
   CEOs rather than simply corporations. Several people felt
   that particular CEOs should not be personalised. The need to
   be very clear about our partners and our goals, to be clearly
   distinguished from right-wing forces, was stressed by many.

   The following session dealt with a strategically important,
   worrying trend -- dialoguing between NGOs and industry. For
   companies, it was pointed out, initiating dialogue is a way of
   staving off criticism. Dialogue, some felt, delegitimises any
   forms of engagement other than consensus and cooperation, thus
   effectively disempowering NGOs. Tony Juniper stated that dialogue
   should not be ruled out as a useful strategy in some
   circumstances. CEOs can change their opinions when points are
   powerfully made and profit is still possible. When companies
   don't respond to demands made during dialogue, this can be used
   against them in the press. Finally, dialoguing with the better
   companies, e.g. those involved in solar and wind power, sends a
   powerful message to other companies. Gregg Muttitt of Corporate
   Watch in the UK cited research he had carried out indicating that
   most mainstream NGOs in the UK are engaged in dialogue, and that
   this can be seen as a real threat to groups engaging in
   confrontation with TNCs. Dialogue is an extremely long and time-
   consuming effort for NGOs, and diverts their attention from other
   tasks. Furthermore, groups in the developing world tend to view
   dialoguing as extremely negative.

   In the discussion that followed, it was pointed out that
   dialoguing tends to legitimise corporate voluntary agreements.
   The need to make a distinction between TNCs that should be
   dismantled and those that need only to be reformed -- and thus
   are good targets for dialogue -- was mentioned. The vast
   disparity in resources between corporations and NGOs was also
   mentioned, as was a general feeling that dialoguing tends to
   accomplish little in the end. The positive example of the
   Forest Stewardship Council -- set up by NGOs with companies
   invited to join -- was cited. Gregg ended the discussion by
   saying that it is important to avoid divisiveness in
   discussions like this one, as that is exactly what the
   corporate world is hoping to create with their invitations to

   Winding Down

   One of the meeting's hosts in Córdoba, Carola Reintjes, gave a
   short presentation on the socio-economic situation in Andalucía.
   The region, with 8 million inhabitants, is very poor, with
   employment reaching up to 45% in some regions. People have a
   love-hate relationship with the EU. There has been lots of
   financial input, but it mostly benefits large landholders and
   most of the population feels forgotten by the EU. 90% of the
   region's agriculture is exported and there is an invasion of
   large supermarkets, yet there are still strong ties with
   traditional and local food and culture.

   Finally, there were reports given from the small working groups
   on joint future projects and campaigns. The group discussing
   general strategies agreed that it is essential to link struggles
   in the North and South without repeating neo- colonial patterns,
   and to make our movement more inclusive.  The results of working
   group meetings on the PR industry, on international trade
   policies and on regulation of TNCs are summarised in the 'Córdoba
   Declaration' which was agreed upon by the participants and is
   included below.


   1. <>

   2. See CEObserver, Issue 3 for the full story.


                    THE CÓRDOBA DECLARATION

   From October 14 - 17, 1999, thirty progressive activists and
   researchers assembled in Córdoba, Spain, for a European strategy
   session, solidifying an international network and movement
   challenging the increasing power of corporations.

   While corporate power is not a new phenomenon, in the last
   decade, the political activities and influence of corporations
   have reached new levels -- threatening the pursuit of
   democracy and social and environmental standards. The growing
   gap between rich and poor, loss of livelihood, cuts in social
   services, mass unemployment and the scapegoating of immigrants
   are some glaring examples of this trend. In addition the
   privatisation of essential services such as health care,
   housing, education and utilities prioritises the realisation
   of profits over public interests.

   Important factors contributing to the rise of corporate power
   include the process of globalisation and the rise of
   neoliberalism. Following trade and investment liberalisation,
   mega-corporations operating on a global scale increasingly
   dominate economies. In the pursuit of international
   competitiveness, governments adopt regulations and free-up
   economic resources to serve the needs of corporations to the
   detriment of people and the environment around the world.

   Corporations have organised themselves in a web of lobby groups
   on the national, regional and global level, such as the European
   Roundtable of Industrialists and the International Chamber of
   Commerce. They have benefited from the ongoing transfer of
   political power to anti-democratic international structures such
   as the European Union and the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Far
   reaching corporate-state alliances have emerged in the last few
   years, such as the Transatlantic Business Dialogue (TABD). They
   show a chilling reality of how far policies are being shaped
   around corporate priorities. Also, the increasingly close
   liaisons between the United Nations and business is an
   unacceptable trend. Another central element of corporate
   political power is the rise of a multi-billion euro public
   relations (PR) industry and media corporations which work with
   business in manipulating public perception on a wide range of
   issues where commercial interests are at stake.

   Campaigns on climate change and international trade and
   investment treaties -- such as the Multilateral Agreement on
   Investment (MAI) and the World Trade Organisation -- as well
   as the growing revolt against genetically modified foods and
   movements against privatisation and deregulation in the South
   provide inspiring examples of how diverse social movements are
   challenging corporate power.

   The time has come to intensify our efforts to structurally
   challenge the political activities and power exercised by
   corporations and their lobby groups. This means rejecting the
   current agenda-setting role of business and anti-democratic
   alliances between corporations and states.

   Limiting economic concentration and dependency on
   mega-corporations is a necessary part of any attempt to roll back
   corporate political power, and allows the social and
   environmental agenda to reclaim political space. Codes of Conduct
   and other voluntary initiatives have proven to be insufficient
   and to be primarily corporate strategies to protect and further
   their own interests. Enforceable standards for corporate social
   and environmental behaviour are imperative.

   As the next steps in our efforts to roll back corporate power, we
   have agreed to work together to:

    - Work to share information and strategies to challenge
      corporate power (direct action, critical shareholder
      campaigns, corporate watchdog activities, etc.)

    - Expose and challenge the major corporations involved in the
      public relations industry.

    - Expose the impact of the Transatlantic Business Dialogue on
      government regulations and institutions and the political
      influence gained by large companies through this
      anti-democratic corporate-state alliance.

    - Prevent WTO negotiations on new issues and demand a full
      independent review of the impact of the Uruguay Round
      agreements on people and environment.

    - Reject the "Global Compact" between the United Nations
      and international business as it is based on the flawed
      concept of self regulation by "corporate global citizens".

   Córdoba, 17 October 1999



   The magazine Nexus has, in its latest issue, reprinted our
   report "WTO Millennium Bug: TNC Control over Global Trade
   Politics" (July 1999), despite the fact that CEO explicitly
   refused Nexus permission to do so. The editorial of the
   magazine mentions our rejection and ends with a provoking "so
   here it is, but without their blessing!" In the Spring of
   1998, after Nexus had reprinted our report "MAIgalomania" we
   discovered the problematic character of this magazine. We
   found "MAIgalomania" next to articles on UFOs and dubious
   conspiracy theories and decided not to allow them to reprint
   our material in the future.

   Nexus -- published monthly from Australia, distributed
   worldwide -- covers "the fields of health alternatives;
   suppressed science; Earth's ancient past; UFOs & the
   unexplained; and government cover-ups." [1] Articles with
   titles like "Mind Control Slavery and the New World Order",
   "Meetings With Remarkable Aliens" and "UK Crop Circles of
   1999" are illustrative for the content of Nexus. More
   seriously is the fact that the magazine has repeatedly printed
   texts by authors belonging to the far right, which has
   resulted in Nexus being listed in the Tel Aviv University
   archive of anti-Semitic literature. [2] Its website has links
   to the homepages of the controversial new age icon David Icke
   as well as to websites with telling titles like "The Ashes of
   Waco" and "The Militia of Montana".

   When Nexus wrote us to ask if they could reprint our WTO
   report, we explained them that we disagree with Nexus
   "promoting a vision of a world governed by conspiracies,
   publishing any story that fits the image of shady, secretive
   political, religious and even extraterrestrial (?) groups
   pursuing terrible scenarios." [3] We told the editor that
   "both in target group and in our political goals, we see no
   basis for cooperation with NEXUS magazine." Nexus wrote back
   saying that they "simply publish unusual and hard to get
   information" and that they would publish the article anyway.

   We have done our best, but in vain, to explain the editors of
   Nexus that our reports on the MAI and the WTO are not
   describing conspiracies, but examples of undemocratic
   international treaty making. We explicitly distance ourselves
   from conspiracy theories, as these completely miss the
   point. The power of corporations is not based on secretive
   dealings. Most of the information we use is freely and easily
   accessible, often also through the internet. Journalists could
   dive into these issues and get the information without any
   serious obstacles.  When news featuring examples of corporate
   political power are not mainstream news, this is due to the
   reality of corporate mass media today, not because of


   1. According to the Nexus website:

   2. In the report "Anti-Semitism Worldwide 1997/8", Nexus is
      listed for printing anti-Semitic texts.
      The report can be found on the website of the Tel Aviv
      University's Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of
      Contemporary Anti-Semitism and Racism :

   3. Letter to Duncan Roads, Nexus editor, 21 October 1999.


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