EU overwhelmingly votes against freedom of expression and transparency

18th April 2016 / EU

The proposed EU legislation on “Trade Secrets Protection”, which the European Parliament voted on April 14, creates excessive rights to secrecy for businesses: it is a direct threat to the work of journalists and their sources, whistleblowers, employees’ freedom of expression, and rights to access public interest information (on medicines, pesticides, car emissions, etc.).

A small group of lobbyists working for large multinational companies (Dupont, General Electric, Intel, Nestlé, Michelin, Safran, Alstom…) convinced the European Commission to draft such a legislation, and helped it all along the way. The problem is that they were too successful in their lobbying: they transformed a legislation which should have regulated fair competition between companies into something resembling a blanket right to corporate secrecy, which now threatens anyone in society who sometimes needs access to companies’ internal information without their consent: consumers, employees, journalists, scientists.

As expected, the European Parliament approved the Trade Secrets Protection directive by a large majority (503 in favour vs. 131 against).

A few observations :

– Only the left groups (GUE/NGL, Greens/EFA) voted against the text, as well as a most EFDD (UKIP and 5 stars) and a few MEPs from the extreme-right (EFN);

– The social-democrats (S&D), the liberals (ALDE), the Conservatives (EPP, ECR) and the French members of the extreme-right (EFN) voted overwhelmingly in favour of the text;

The text would have been adopted even if all members of the S&Ds group present (178) had voted against

– In general, political group discipline (MEPs voting along their political group’s line) was very high in this vote. With the exception of the extreme-right, the level of cohesion in the vote was over 83% in all political groups. This reflects the fact that many of the 652 MEPs who took part in the vote (there are 750 MEPs in the European Parliament) had little knowledge of the text and relied on their political group to decide on how they should vote. The ”debate” in plenary the evening before gathered less than 15 MEPs and lasted about 45 minutes.

A detailed analysis of the vote can be found on the website. We list the vote of all present MEPs.

For more information go to – Exposing the power of corporate lobbying in the EU

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