Parliamentary question - E-6706/2008Parliamentary question

Privileged information of members of Expert Groups, the motivation for participating in them and the financial interests of undertakings in acceptance of advice

by Erik Meijer (GUE/NGL)
to the Commission

1. Is the Commission aware of the correspondence between its Secretary-General and the Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) concerning the postponement of publication of the identities of those who, through Expert Groups, influence EU policy? Why is it making publication of the names conditional on the consent of the persons concerned? Does this mean that, for example, industrial experts who exert influence in this way but would prefer to keep their lobbying activities secret are immediately removed as members and no longer have any opportunity to gain access to privileged information?

2. Bearing in mind the Commission's views on ‘fair and free’ competition, what view does it take of the privileged information to which businesses may gain access in relation to their R & D activities, innovations or the financial exploitation of exclusive knowledge (particularly advance knowledge) or the competitive advantage which they enjoy as a result of participating in an Expert Group? Does the Commission consider such privileged information tolerable in the light of the principle of fair competition? If so, why?

3. In the Commission's opinion, what interest might induce a market operator to deploy its experts as advisers on Expert Groups, other than its own advantage?

4. Are there any officials or other public servants who the Commission now knows wish to remain members of an Expert Group in secret? How many such people are there, and from which countries do they come? Do they include non-residents of the EU?

5. Does the Commission consider that people who have any direct, indirect or even merely apparent financial interest in the acceptance of their advice can be members of Expert Groups?

6. How can Members of the European Parliament know that information exists which is relevant to them but secret, which they can ask to receive, if the Commission is only upon request prepared to allow Members of the European Parliament to inspect minutes of Expert Groups which have not already been published, in accordance with Point 16 in the Framework Agreement on Relations between the EP and the Commission? Does the Commission agree that this procedure is unworkable for a Member of Parliament who wishes to act as a watchdog in order to object to abuses?

OJ C 316, 23/12/2009