At your service: the European Services Forum’s privileged access to the EU Commission | Corporate Europe Observatory

Academics have named the relationship between the Commission and the ESF as one of “reverse” or “top down lobbying”: “where the public authority lobbies business to lobby itself”2.

A key routine for this purpose are the ESF’s quarterly Policy Committee meetings, where ESF members debate and decide positions and strategies. The Commission is always present in these meetings, often with several lead negotiators and other high-ranking officials, sitting next to lobbyists from TheCityUK, Telefónica, BusinessEurope and the like. Every six months, trade officials from EU member states join in, followed by a cocktail reception.

During these meetings, Commission officials give “candid” briefings3 about ongoing trade talks to ESF members. They also advise the ESF whom, when and how to lobby. In October 2011, for example, the head of DG Trade’s services and investment unit, Leopoldo Rubinacci, suggested the ESF should send a delegation to the next EU-India summit (“to show clear interests and pressure to the Indian negotiators and regulators”)4. At the time, the Indian government was preparing regulation to open India’s retail market to European supermarket giants – a move which triggered massive resistance from millions of street vendors and small shop owners fearing for their livelihoods. Corporate support was considered key to counter this resistance.

via At your service: the European Services Forum’s privileged access to the EU Commission | Corporate Europe Observatory.

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