A great day for transparency!

Political agreement transparency measures for European oil and mining companies has been reached

Today, the EU reached a political agreement on binding transparency measures for European oil, gas, mining and logging companies. These rules have been almost three years in the making and the strong outcome is a testament to amazing work from ONE members and the Publish What You Pay coalition.

Eloise Todd, Brussels Director for ONE, had this to say in response:

“Today’s agreement is a major step forward in the fight against corruption.  This law will shine a light on the often murky world of oil, gas and mining deals in Africa, helping ordinary people see where the money paid for their countries’ natural resources is really going and potentially lift millions out of extreme poverty.”

 

In 2010, exports of oil and minerals from Africa were worth seven times the value of international aid to the continent.  Despite this, many African countries remain trapped in poverty and do not benefit from their natural resources because of secrecy and corruption surrounding the deals and payments.

The new EU rules would oblige European extractive companies to publish their payments to governments in the countries where they operate. These payments were previously made in secret, allowing unscrupulous individuals to pocket some of the profits, but now citizens will be able to ensure that the money is used properly for vital services like schools, roads and health clinics that would benefit all.

After the US passed a law in 2010 obliging US-listed companies to publish their payments, the EU decided to look into this as well, thereby contributing to an emerging global standard of transparency.

It took a bold proposal backed by EU Commissioner Michel Barnier and Commission President José Manuel Barroso. In the European Parliament, MEPs Arlene McCarthy, Klaus-Heiner Lehne, Cecilia Wikström, Eva Lichtenberger and many other have been instrumental in pushing through the strongest possible rules. Some Member States in particular have helped to uphold this ambition, not least France, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Denmark, Cyprus and Belgium.

Most of all, we are immensely grateful to all our ONE members who took action over the last months and years. Over 162 000 members signed our petitions calling on leaders to pass strong transparency measures; more than 8,000 of you sent personalised postcards to MEP last summer to urge them to vote the right way, and there have been countless handwritten letters and tweets that have clearly made a difference.

The EU rules are similar to those in the US: all payments over €100 000 need to be published for every country and every extractive project the company operates. An exemption for countries that might prohibit disclosure, the so-called ‘tyrants’ veto’, has been struck out. To come into effect, they must still be formally adopted by EU member states and the European Parliament (hopefully by June), and then translated into law in the 27 EU member states.

Europe has sent a very powerful signal to the world: we will hold ourselves and our companies to a higher standard of transparency. This is the new way of doing business. Are you on our side? We hope that the other G8 and G20 countries will follow suit. We look forward to continuing to work with ONE members and our political champions to help make that happen.

Read the press release here.

 

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