EU Funding £90m Green Lobbying Con

  • Date: 22/12/13
  • Robert Mendick and Edward Malnick, The SundayTtelegraph

Green activists are given more than £90 million on EU “cash carousel” promting calls for the fund to be scrapped

Energy Savings Man

Energy Savings Man

The European Union is paying green campaign groups millions of pounds effectively to lobby itself.

Activists are being given the grants from a European Commission environmental fund, which enables a network of green groups to influence and promote EU policy.

The practice has been branded a “cash carousel” by critics, who have called for the special fund — called Life+ — to be scrapped.

In total, the fund has handed out more than £90 million to green groups in the past 15 years, according to the TaxPayers’ Alliance, which has analysed its spending.

Just over a fifth of its funding — £7.5 million in the latest round of grants — went to help “strengthen” green groups “in the dialogue process in environmental policymaking and in its implementation”.

One Brussels-based campaign group, the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), has received £10.5 million from the fund since 1997, according to the TaxPayers’ Alliance.

The group’s stated mission is to “influence EU policymaking” and ensure EU policies are properly implemented by member states.

The European policy office of the World Wide Fund for Nature, also based in Brussels, has received £7.4 million, while Friends of the Earth Europe (FoEE), also based in Brussels, is the third highest recipient with £6.4 million.

In total, 25 groups have each been given more than €1 million (£850,000) from Life+. EU funding has helped to pay for a video, produced by FoEE, of a green superhero called Energy Savings Man, which lobbied the British and

German governments to back an EC energy savings directive, which has since come into force.

In its most recent round of grants for 2013, Life+ awarded £7.5 million to 32 groups, including:

• £290,000 to CEE Bankwatch Network, a Czech-based organisation which campaigns against “the activities of international financial institutions in the Central and Eastern European (CEE) region that cause negative environmental and social impacts”;

• £80,000 to Counter Balance, also based in Prague, which lobbies banks to ensure they “adhere to sustainable development goals, climate change mitigation policy, and the protection of biodiversity, in line with EU goals”;

• £260,000 to Brussels-based Health Care Without Harm Europe, which campaigns to “address the environmental impact of the health-care sector in Europe … to make the health-care system more ecologically sustainable”;

• £44,000 to Kyoto Club, based in Rome, whose main actions include “lobbying and advocacy for EU climate change mitigation policies, through policy recommendations and reports, information-sharing and campaigning, participation in EU events and stakeholder meetings, and contacts with relevant MEPs, Council and Commission officials”;

• £350,000 to the Italian-based Slow Food, a group which campaigns to “reduce the impact of food production and consumption on the environment” and will achieve this by “participating in the international and EU debate about food through EU institution advisory committees, expert working groups and other high-level groups”.

Greenpeace, perhaps the best known environmental campaigning organisation, has refused to take any EU or government funding. A spokesman said it refused to take cash from government sources, including the EU, for fear of compromise.

“We want to be completely independent in terms of what we say and do,” said the spokesman. “Taking money from governments — central, local or European — would make it difficult for us to express our views without sullying the waters.”

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