ONE testifies in European Parliament on the need for transparency

Last week ONE Acting Brussels Director, Alexander Woollcombe, spoke at two official hearings in the European Parliament. He drove home the point to MEPs that over 200 000 ONE members have been calling for: we need strong transparency rules for the oil, gas and mining industries.

The Foreign Affairs committee is preparing an opinion on the proposed EU transparency laws, and was most interested in hearing about the impact this legislation would have on foreign resource-rich countries. The MEP in charge of the opinion, Franziska Brantner, said that on her recent official trip to Libya, Libyan citizens had told her that the best thing the EU could do to prevent a new regime in Libya from being just as corrupt as the previous one, was to ensure improve the transparency of companies doing business in Libya.

In the Legal Affairs Committee, the committee in the lead for the European Parliament position on extractives transparency measures, Alexander Woollcombe emphasised that the devil is in the detail. The European Parliament must make sure that companies are required to report payments for each country but also for every project, because it is the only way that the accountability link can be kept between local communities, the projects that affect them and the wealth derived from those projects.

Steve Manteaw, convener of Publish What You Pay Ghana, sent a strong message that the law also shouldn’t have any loopholes: “I will also urge the reconsideration of the suggestion to include an exemption for governments that don’t want their receipts disclosed. […] Imagine how leaders in places like Zimbabwe and Equatorial Guinea would react. It would create a perverse incentive for opaque governments to create new secrecy laws.”

Mining giant Rio Tinto and Shell were also at the hearing to testify, but saw their proposals challenged by Arlene McCarthy MEP, the lead MEP on the Transparency Directive.

The European Parliament will soon start negotiating with the EU member states and decide together on these transparency measures. You can let them know that you are watching and expect them to do the right thing by signing our petition here.

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