Brendan O'Donnell, Head of Oil Campaign, Global Witness speak to VOA
Global Witness welcome today’s European Parliamentary committee vote requiring that EU oil, gas, mining and timber companies publish their payments to governments to help deter corruption.
The vote brings Europe one step closer to shining a light on payments worth billions of Euros by extractive companies to governments, which have previously remained secret, enabling corrupt government officials to siphon off or misappropriate natural resource revenues.
Although the final text of the proposal is yet to be published, the cross-party European Parliament’s JURI committee have agreed a version of a directive that appears to include an effective definition of ‘project’ reporting which will enable citizens to follow the money from natural resource deals.
Parliament also excluded exemptions in reporting that companies asked for that would offer loopholes for despotic regimes to outlaw transparency with new blocking provisions in their countries. The text also contains thresholds for payments that align with similar US ‘sunshine’ rules for US listed extractives companies set at the end of August.
The proposals gained support across the poltical parties with MEPs Arlene McCarthy and Klaus-Heiner Lehne championing on behalf of the Socialist and Democrats and centre-right EPP groupings and with MEPs Cecilia Wikstrom and Eva Lichtenberger rallying Liberal and Green groups’ support.
Parliamentary representatives will now negotiate with European Council ministers from member states, before a final version of the directive goes to all MEPs for a European Parliamentary vote later in the year.
Arlene McCarthy MEP, the Parliament Rapporteur on the Transparency law, said after the vote in the legal affairs committee:
“With this vote we now have a strong negotiating mandate to force the Member States and Commission to accept the Parliament's amendments, putting us on track to create strong global transparency standards, with equivalent rules in the EU and the US."
Brendan O’Donnell, head of Global Witness’ oil campaign, commented, “A final EU directive which includes the elements set out by the JURI committee today would be good for industry and citizens alike. Information on payments will give citizens more power to track the money being paid to governments in resource-rich countries to combat oil and mineral sector corruption. The question now is whether Member States will follow through and agree a similarly strong proposal in negotiations with Parliament.”
For more information or to request an interview, please contact:
Brendan O'Donnell, Head of Oil Campaign, Global Witness: 00 44 (0) 7912 517 128 [email protected] - available for comment after the JURI Committee vote at circa 11.30 am CET Tuesday 18th September
Note to Editors:
- In October 2011 the European Commission proposed that European Union-listed and large unlisted extractive and timber companies should publicly disclose their tax and revenue payments to governments worldwide, through revisions of the EU Transparency and Accounting Directives.
- Disclosure would provide citizens of resource-rich but poor countries, investors and civil society with accurate information about the flow of revenues to governments from oil, gas, mining and logging.
- Developing countries need to maximise revenue from these finite resources. In 2010, Africa’s oil, gas and mineral exports were worth roughly 7 times the value of international aid to the continent ($333 billion vs $48 billion).
- The final directives should require disclosure of payments at the country and project level in order to compliment the standard set by the US Securities and Exchange Commission rules published August 22nd (implementing US Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform & Consumer Protection Act section 1504).
- If an effective EU directive is established it would mark a watershed in the creation of global transparency standards to help break the link between natural resources and corruption. A global movement of anti-corruption, human rights and community-based organisations in resource-rich countries have been pushing for transparency measures of this kind for over a decade. The European Council and European Parliament should now support and strengthen the proposals to achieve full effect in the enacted EU legislation.