Activists from all over Europe gather in Brussels to lobby MEPs on extractive transparency

Source: PWYP International
Date: 20 Mar 2022

On 20 March Publish What You Pay member Tearfund, with Micah Challenge International, brought 30 campaigners from five European countries over to Brussels to lobby for strong transparency rules at the EU level for extractive companies. This was the first chance for members of the public to voice their opinion to their representatives on this issue in Brussels. Campaigners will meet with their MEPs over two days to discuss the recent proposed revisions to the Transparency and Accounting Directives.

The proposals were released by the European Commission in October 2011 and key provisions would oblige Europe’s largest extractive companies to publish what they pay in each country where they operate. Throughout 2011 European leaders, including Nicolas Sarkozy and David Cameron, publicly voiced their support for such rules, which will help curb corruption and enable citizens in resource rich countries hold their governments to account. The European Parliament and Council are now finalising the new rules.

Publish What You Pay’s Senior Advocacy Officer Joseph Williams said: “The introduction of these amendments last October was a milestone, now we now need the details of the rules to be spot-on. Project-level reporting is essential for citizens to gain a true understanding of how much their government is receiving for their country’s natural resources. Exemptions which would provide a loophole for companies and unscrupulous regimes to avoid full reporting also need to be stripped from the laws. Only then will we have laws which are fit for purpose and provide citizens in resource-rich countries with key information to ensure accountability in the way their natural resources are managed.”

PWYP members ONE and Tearfund have also organised a development briefing for MEPs on the morning of Wednesday 21 March. MEP Birgit Schnieber-Jastram will make opening remarks with Bishop Stephen Munga from Tanzania as a special guest. Bishop Stephen Munga, who also works on this issue in Tanzania, will talk about corruption in Tanzania and the ways these European laws will help citizens fully benefit from their natural resources.

“It is essential that we use our influence and this opportunity to lobby MEPs and the Danish EC Presidency because the legislative process is at a critical stage,” says Bishop Dr Stephen Munga, from Tanzania. “If information is published on the payments made to developing countries in return for oil, gas and mineral contracts, communities local to these projects, often exploited as a consequence, can be empowered to hold their governments to account.

“Tearfund’s Unearth the Truth campaign wants to see the substantial revenue released to improve the lives of the poorest people through improved public services. I whole-heartedly support it because in Tanzania we are moving forward with this and now we have a chance to see real change through robust EU laws.”

International Director Marinke van Riet added: “It is fantastic that so many members of the public have taken this opportunity to raise this issue with their representatives. It reflects the growing consensus that transparency should be the norm and that all citizens deserve to benefit from their natural resources”.

The European activists will gather for a photo outside the Danish embassy on Wednesday morning, before handing in a petition. Signed by more than 10,000 people, the petition calls on the Danish presidency of the EU to swiftly adopt the rules proposed last October, ensuring that they remain robust, with no exemptions and a strong project level definition.

Real time photos and updates will be posted to twitter with the hashtag #lovetruth

ENDS

Media contact:

Senior Advocacy Officer
Joseph Williams [email protected]
+44 777 575 1170

Notes for Editors:

The Transparency Directive is one of two directives (the other being the Accounting Directive) where the European Commission has proposed to introduce country-by-country and project-by-project reporting for the extractive and logging industries:
http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/accounting/other_en.htm

more than 50 resource-rich countries like Nigeria, Angola, Cambodia and Kazakhstan which are united in their call for oil, gas and mining revenues to form the basis for development and improve the lives of ordinary citizens in resource-rich countries