September 20, 2019 - Issue #60
THREE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS WEEK
1. INVESTORS ASK U.S. FIRMS TO ALIGN CLIMATE LOBBYING WITH PARIS AGREEMENT: 200 institutional investors with a combined $6.5 trillion in assets-under-management announced on Monday that they are calling on 47 of the largest U.S. publicly traded corporations to align their climate lobbying with the goals of the Paris Agreement, warning that lobbying activities that are inconsistent with meeting climate goals are an investment risk. Environmental Leader reports.
2. ONLY ONE IN FIVE U.K. COMPANIES READY FOR EU TRADE UNDER NO-DEAL BREXIT: Only one in five U.K. companies would be able to undertake the complex processes necessary to trade with the EU after a no-deal Brexit, according to a survey of supply chain managers published on Wednesday. The disclosure comes a day after leaked documents from the U.K. Department for Transport showed that disruption to EU trade would be exacerbated because ports would turn away tens of thousands of trucks without the right paperwork rather than let them queue at the dockside. Via Financial Times (FT).
3. U.S. — WARREN ANNOUNCES ‘SWEEPING SET OF ANTI-CORRUPTION REFORMS’: Democratic presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren on Monday unveiled a wide-ranging and detailed plan to crack down on corruption in government. In announcing her plan, Warren called it “the most sweeping set of anti-corruption reforms” since Watergate. Among other things, her proposals would ban federal lawmakers and top congressional staffers from serving on corporate boards, enforce a six-year cool-off period for corporate lobbyists before being able to take federal government jobs and permanently prevent the president, vice president and cabinet officials from working as lobbyists after leaving office, Fox News reports.
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NEW ON THE TRANSPARENCY REGISTER
EU REGISTER RECAP: This week has seen 36 new arrivals on the EU transparency register, of which 18 were listed as “in-house lobbyists and professional associations”. Via the EU Transparency Register.
TRANSPARENCY TOP SPENDER: This week sees the French NGO Ligue internationale contre le Racisme et l’Antisémitisme (LICRA) in the lead, listing the range of €1,250,000-€1,499,999 in costs covered by the transparency register. With 60 volunteer lawyers in France and 13 full-time employees, LICRA “fights against all forms of racism and anti-Semitism in many areas”.
THE RUNNER UP: The International Federation of Journalists, the largest organization of journalists in the world, lists €563,360 in costs covered by the transparency register. The organization, representing 600,000 media professionals in 187 unions and associations in more than 146 countries, speaks on behalf of journalists in the U.N. and the international trade union movement.
WHAT CAUGHT OUR EYE AROUND THE WORLD
EU — THE INFLUENCE OF EUROPE’S BIGGEST GAS COMPANIES: Corporate Europe Observatory has an extensive new report — Who owns all the pipelines? — examining the influence of what it calls “the four biggest gas companies you’ve never heard of”: Enagás, Fluxys, GRTgaz and Snam. According to the report: “The four spent up to €900,000 on lobbying Brussels last year, employing a total of 14 lobbyists. According to the EU’s transparency register, they’ve managed to secure almost 50 meetings with the European Commission’s top political officials…”
EU — VESTAGER’S TAX CRUSADE VERDICT: Brussels’ competition chief, Margrethe Vestager, finds out next week how her landmark tax rulings are seen by the courts. The European Court of Justice is expected to give rulings on two of Vestager’s tax recovery orders: Starbucks in the Netherlands and Fiat in Luxembourg. Vestager will be hoping for success after EU judges annulled the commission’s state aid decision against a Belgian tax scheme worth €700m in
February, FT Brussels briefing reports.
U.S./EU — TRADE WAR IS COMING…: The U.S. has the green light to impose billions of euros in punitive tariffs on EU products in retaliation for illegal subsidies granted to Airbus, POLITICO reports. Four EU officials confirmed that the World Trade Organization ruled in favor of the U.S. in the long-running transatlantic dispute and sent its confidential decision to Brussels and Washington last Friday.
U.S. — …BUT INDUSTRY GROUPS SEEK TO LIMIT TRUMP’S TARIFF AUTHORITY: “Nearly two dozen industry groups from the manufacturing, agricultural and other sectors are joining forces to encourage Congress to rein in U.S. President Donald Trump’s authority over tariffs and trade,” POLITICO’s Megan Cassella reports. “The new effort, called the Tariff Reform Coalition, wants to ‘ensure clearer guidelines and greater congressional oversight with respect to the presidential use of tariffs,’ said Rufus Yerxa, president of the National Foreign Trade Council, which is leading the effort. The 23 coalition members include
Global Automakers, the National Retail Federation and Farmers for Free Trade.”
VIETNAM — GOOGLE AND APPLE BETTING ON THE COUNTRY AS TRADE WAR HAVEN: As the trade war between the U.S. and China looms, Vietnam is gaining ground as a safe haven for large multinationals such as Google and Apple. The magnitude of the shift is hard to measure, in part because multinationals are keeping their moves discreet to avoid upsetting delicate government and supplier relationships in China. But Vietnam’s trade numbers, not least its record $39.5bn surplus with the U.S. last year, suggest a significant realignment is underway, as do anecdotes from companies, consultants and suppliers in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, FT reports.
U.K. — BREXIT CORNER: The U.K. submitted backstop ‘ideas’ documents leading up to the technical discussions between U.K. and EU officials held yesterday. Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay and EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier will also hold political talks today. Meanwhile, outgoing Commission President Jean Claude Juncker provided a summary in his debrief to MEPs on Wednesday on his recent meeting with U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson. “The prime minister assured us that he continued to want an agreement, but whatever happens, the U.K. will leave the European Union on the 31st of October, with or without an agreement,” Juncker said. “That is why the risk of a no-deal is palpable. The risk of a no-deal remains very real.” Via POLITICO Brussels Playbook.
U.K. — LIBERAL DEMOCRATS PLEDGE TO REVOKE ARTICLE 50 IF ELECTED: The Liberal Democrats have doubled down on their pitch as Britain’s “party of Remain”, voting at their party conference on Sunday to cancel Brexit if they come to power at the next election — without recourse to a second referendum. Jo Swinson, the new party leader, claimed on Sunday she could be Britain’s next prime minister and that she wanted to revoke Article 50 and scrap Brexit in the unlikely event she was running the country in the near future, FT reports.
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FACEBOOK’S LIBRA LOBBY GROWS: Facebook has hired at least seven lobbying firms to influence lawmakers on its proposed digital currency, Libra. The firms include the Sternhell Group, the Williams Group, FS Vector, Mason Street Consulting, Off Hill Strategies, and Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, according to POLITICO Pro Morning Tech.
PR PUSH FOR IRISH MEAT AND DAIRY: An agri-food alliance in Ireland has hired Red Flag consulting firm to help promote a more positive image about meat and dairy, the Irish Independent reported on Tuesday.
MOVERS & SHAKERS
VDA: Bernhard Mattes, chief lobbyist of Germany’s powerful auto lobby, the Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), will stand down at the end of 2019. The former Ford executive has only been at the helm of the VDA, which is responsible for lobbying for companies such as Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW, since 2018, POLITICO Pro reports.
CGCN GROUP: Washington-based consultancy, CGCN, has scooped up Matt Rhoades and Antonia Ferrier from the communications and opposition research firm Definers Public Affairs. Rhoades will serve as co-CEO, along with GOP lobbyist Sam Geduldig. Ferrier is a former Republican congressional aide, most recently working for senate majority leader Mitch McConnell. Via Roll Call.
THE BREWERS OF EUROPE: Simon Spillane is the new director for communications and public affairs at The Brewers of Europe following the departure of the previous communications director, Jan DeGrave, who has joined Ferrero. Mathieu Schneider becomes project director. Anna-Maria De Smet is upgraded to senior director for regulatory and public affairs. Via POLITICO PRO EU Influence.
BAYER: Daniella Foster is the new head of public affairs and sustainability for Bayer’s Consumer Health Division, the company announced on Monday. Foster most recently led Global Corporate Responsibility at the Hilton Corporation. Via PR Week.
BIRD: Florian Döllner is the new head of EU affairs for U.S. electric scooter company Bird. Via POLITICO PRO EU Influence.
ECPA: The European Crop Protection Association (ECPA), which lobbies for the pesticides industry, appointed Géraldine Kutas as its new director general. Before joining ECPA, Kutas headed up international affairs at the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association in Brussels for nearly 12 years, and had stints at Brazilian food giant BRF, and Brazilian farm lobby CNA. Via POLITICO Pro.
APPLE: Hendrik Bourgeois is now head of government affairs Europe and Russia at Apple. Via POLITICO PRO EU Influence.
PhRMA: Lori Reilly has been named chief operating officer at the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). Reilly was previously executive vice president of policy, research and membership. Via POLITICO Influence.
GRAYLING: Public affairs firm Grayling Brussels has expanded its team with three new hires: Fabrizio De Simone (senior consultant), Kinga Timaru Kast
(communications director) and Nataša Vistrička. Via POLITICO PRO EU Influence.
AFME: The prospect already covered in issue #57 of this newsletter has now been confirmed. Adam Farkas, currently the executive director of the European Banking Authority (EBA), will become the chief executive of the Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME). The EBA has prohibited Farkas from contacting its staff for 24 months after taking up the new job, and from involving himself in lobbying for the banking industry for a year and a half. Farkas will join AFME as of February 2020. Via POLITICO PRO EU Influence.
BCW: Former British Conservative MEP Julie Girling has joined global communications agency BCW (Burson Cohn & Wolfe) as a senior adviser, according to a company press release on September 12.
GSC: Eleni Giannakaki leaves FoodDrinkEurope as senior manager of public relations, joining the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union (GSC), working as a communications and press officer in the Outreach Unit. Via POLITICO PRO EU Influence.
BPI: Former senior adviser at the Bank of England Lauren Anderson will join the Bank Policy Institute (BPI) as senior vice president and associate general counsel. BPI is a public policy, research and advocacy group, representing banks and their customers, a BPI press release announced on September 12.
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We hope you enjoyed this week’s GPAC weekly round-up.
Stay tuned for next week’s edition!