ONE Members ask local MEP to stand up to big oil

When local ONE members met their MEP (Member of European Parliament) Arlene McCarthy in Manchester last Friday they knew that trillions of dollars were at stake. On the surface this was about technical revisions to obscure laws in the European Parliament – but these laws could transform the lives of millions.

The transparency laws under discussion would force oil, gas, mining and forestry companies to publish what they pay in an effort to stop the secrecy over trillions of dollars paid to governments across Africa. This will help citizens ensure that the money their country gets for its natural resources will benefit those who need it, and isn’t lost to corruption. To give you an idea of how much difference this can make, Africa’s natural resources were worth $333 billion in 2010, compared to $48 billion given in aid – that’s seven times the amount.

ONE members Naomi, Martin and Nathan, along with Mike from campaigning partner Tearfund, wanted to know what their representative was doing to help some of the world’s poorest people fight corruption. Ms McCarthy explained her key role in negotiating the detail of the law and assured her constituents that she supports our campaign.

Ms McCarthy said, “As the Parliament’s draftsperson on the Transparency Directive I am committed to taking up ONE and Tearfund’s concerns in this legislation and I am pleased to see so many people in my own region supporting the campaign.”

She also spoke of the challenges to get the details right, commenting that the “UK Government has aligned itself with the big international companies’ position of government-level reporting which will be totally meaningless for local communities in holding their governments to account.”

ONE and Tearfund supporters then presented Ms McCarthy with a petition of 135,962 people supporting her efforts to stand up to big oil.

ONE member Naomi Davey, said: “I’m proud to be from a region where our MEPs, like Arlene McCarthy, are working to ensure that these laws are strong enough to do the job. Transparency is essential in order to root out corruption and help people get themselves out of poverty. We must not waste this opportunity to help millions around the world get a better deal from their country’s natural resources.”

This came straight after a key meeting in Brussels last week where Ms McCarthy challenged the proposals put forward by mining giant Rio Tinto and Shell. She was joined by Alexander Woollcombe, ONE’s Acting Brussels Director, who on behalf of ONE members across the world demanded that the trillion dollar scandal must end.

Thank you to everyone who continues to support this campaign – keep sharing our petition and we’ll let you know how you can play a key role as the European Parliament and national Ministers negotiate in the weeks and months ahead.