The ongoing process for the revision of the Industrial Emissions Directive’s environmental performance standards for large combustion plants, including coal power plants, has sparked severe criticism by environmental and corporate watch groups, due to the increased and intransparent participation of industry representatives in national delegations. According to a March 5th report published by Greenpeace, “the whole process has been captured by the coal industry, with the result that the emission limits the EU is about to agree could be extremely lax. Not only would most of the existing plants be allowed to pollute several times more than could be achieved by adopting the best clean technologies available. EU standards would also be significantly weaker than those imposed in other parts of the world, including China.”
According to Greenpeace,
•“The United Kingdom nine-person member state delegation has five representatives of large polluters, including coal power plant operators RWE, EDF and E.ON and the Stanlow oil refinery.
•The seven-member Greek delegation is entirely made up of representatives of Public Power Corporation, the operator of some of the dirtiest lignite power plants anywhere in the EU, and Hellenic Petroleum.
•The Spanish twelve-person delegation includes eight industry representatives, including coal power plant operators Endesa and Iberdrola, as well as the electricity producers’ association UNESA.”
The transparency of the working groups set up by the European Commission with advisory mandate that contributes to legislative decision-making has been put under the scrutiny of the European Ombudsman. In the context of a 2014 own-initiative inquiry concerning the composition of Commission expert groups, Ombudsman Emily O’ Reilly carried out a public consultation which highlighted major flaws and called for greater transparency and balanced representation of all relevant interests: “The overall tenor of the contributions received is negative as regards the current situation. Stakeholders argue that there are major deficiencies persisting with regard to the composition and transparency of Commission expert groups. The main problems identified by stakeholders are (i) the inconsistent categorisation of organisations that are members of expert groups, (ii) the perceived continued dominance of corporate interests in a high number of expert groups, (iii) a lack of data on the expert groups register, and (iv) the appointment of individuals who are closely affiliated with a specific stakeholder group as experts in their personal capacity, linked to the absence of an effective conflict of interest policy.”
In 2014, a report by business watchdog Corporate Europe had criticised the Barroso II Commission for increasing intransparency in the process of its law-making functions. According to Corporate Europe, “European corporations have been very successful in exploiting the crisis to forward their own agendas, and the help of the European Commission has been instrumental in that effort. That is partly due to the composition of the Commission, but there is more to it than that.”
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