The new era of lobbying - Chapter 9 : The technocracy at the helm

Alain-Patrick Umucyo By Alain-Patrick Umucyo, 18th Dec 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/29ixuc6-/
Posted in Wikinut>Business>Business Opportunities

While lobbyists are pushing for controlling the decisive positions in the public sphere(1), they can count on the technocracy at the helm.

1 The characterisation of the technocracy

The technocracy is the “system (…) in which the advice of technical counsels (directors, professionals from the administration) determine the decisions by giving the preference to technical data rather than human or social factors”.(2) The “European Commission's Regulatory Fitness and Performance programme” (REFIT)(3) is a prime example of a technocratic instrument. This programme is founded on the participation of “every level of government (…) to ensure that the benefits are realised at least cost (…) The Commission welcomes input, data and evidence to its Regulatory Fitness Agenda”.(4)

The pre-eminence given “to technical data rather than human or social factors” was criticized in the paper from the group Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) entitled The crusade against 'red tape': How the European Commission and big business push for deregulation.(5) When they announced the release of their study, CEO stressed that this crusade was a “neo-liberal push to weaken or block new legislation and scrap existing rules”.(6) All of that “under the misleading banner of tackling 'red tape', promoting 'better regulation' or safeguarding 'competitiveness'”.(7)

2 The instrument of the technocracy for big business

2.1 The favor given to business

CEO's study paper explains that REFIT is “the latest initiative in the Commission’s 'Smart Regulation' agenda.”(8) The programme was adopted after “the achievement of a 2007 target to reduce administrative burdens to businesses by 25% by 2012.”(9)

“REFIT is a rolling programme”(10) informs the European Commission. The study paper points out that this implies a yearly screening of EU's “entire body of law to find new regulations to scrap, weaken or simplify.”(11) Indeed, the Commission reveals that it is implementing “simplification proposals for the benefit of business”.(12) It mentions also “various evaluations and Fitness Checks”(13) ; wording that is decried by CEO's publication.

2.2 The preservation of private interests before the commecement of the legislative procedure

The yearly screening of EU's regulations is based among others on “a joint effort between the European Commission (…) and stakeholders.”(14) The author of the study paper explains that this joint effort is not only about consulting stakeholders. Some of them are solicited for analysing EU's legal framework. For instance, Deloitte, “one of the global leaders in audit and professional services”(15), scrutinised the “ legislation on protection of freshwater, and on information and consultation of workers.”(16)

The author exposes Deloitte as a “company that makes billions of euros in profits serving the interests of many of the largest corporations in the world”.(17) Then she highlights that this very company scrutinised “EU environmental legislation and laws affecting workers’ rights, in order that the Commission can weaken or scrap rules deemed too burdensome to big business.”(18)

However, the commercial interests are not only preserved before the commencement of the legislative procedure. They may as well prevail while the legislator is pondering over a legislative proposal.

2.3 The weight of private interests during the legislative procedure

Under a section about the consequences of the REFIT programme, The crusade against 'red tape' draws attention on the dismissed proposal for a Framework Directive on the Protection of Soil. This “directive would have required landowners to protect soil from degradation, so its scrapping is doubly disturbing given that the Commission’s own research showed soil biodiversity is under threat in over half of EU territory”.(19)

The European Commission informs that “within REFIT, the Commission regularly withdraws proposals that are outdated or do not have the support of the legislator.”(20) The author of the study paper infers that the directive proposal was not outdated because the directive “was needed to tackle a serious and EU-wide problem”.(21) Therefore “the Commission’s justification must have been the delay in the Council (where the proposal stalled in 2007 and was blocked again in 2009).”(22)

“This precedent sends a clear signal to big business interest groups” according to the author. “If they can stall a proposal that might dampen their profits, by lobbying Members of the European Parliament (MEP) allies or business-friendly member states, they can effectively stop it. Because REFIT promises to withdraw what doesn’t advance fast enough.”(23)

The present chapter is part of The new era of lobbying volume.

SOURCES

(1)UMUCYO Alain-Patrick. The new era of lobbying - Chapter 5 : XXIst century lobbying, the new power (online). 22 November 2014. Wikinut. <http://www.wikinut.com/in/xgdhii/news.wikinut.com/2-2.-The-new-era-of-lobbying.-Part.-3-%3A-XXIst-century-lobbying%2C-the-new-power/3vbzk5hj/> accessed 18 December 2014

(2)CENTRE NATIONAL DE RESSOURCES TEXTUELLES ET LEXICALES. Technocrate (online). 2012. CNRTL. <http://www.cnrtl.fr/definition/technocratie> accessed 09 December 2014

(3)EUROPEAN COMMISSION. Smart Regulation – REFIT (online). Last update : 17/12/2014. European Commission. <http://ec.europa.eu/smart-regulation/refit/index_en.htm> accessed 18 December 2014

(4)Ibidem

(5)TANSEY Rachel. The crusade against 'red tape': How the European Commission and big business push for deregulation (online). October 2014. Corporate Europe. <http://corporateeurope.org/sites/default/files/attachments/red_tape_crusade.pdf> accessed 12 November 2014

(6)COPORATE EUROPE OBSERVATORY. The crusade against 'red tape': How the European Commission and big business push for deregulation (online). 31 October 2014. Corporate Europe. <http://corporateeurope.org/power-lobbies/2014/10/crusade-against-red-tape-how-european-commission-and-big-business-push> accessed 18 December 2014

(7)Ibidem

(8)TANSEY Rachel. The crusade against 'red tape': How the European Commission and big business push for deregulation (online). October 2014. Corporate Europe. p. 3 <http://corporateeurope.org/sites/default/files/attachments/red_tape_crusade.pdf> accessed 18 December 2014

(9)Ibidem

(10)EUROPEAN COMMISSION. Smart Regulation – REFIT (online). Last update : 17/12/2014. European Commission. <http://ec.europa.eu/smart-regulation/refit/index_en.htm> accessed 18 December 2014

(11)TANSEY Rachel. The crusade against 'red tape': How the European Commission and big business push for deregulation (online). October 2014. Corporate Europe. p. 3 <http://corporateeurope.org/sites/default/files/attachments/red_tape_crusade.pdf> accessed 18 December 2014

(12)EUROPEAN COMMISSION. Smart Regulation – REFIT (online). Last update : 17/12/2014. European Commission. <http://ec.europa.eu/smart-regulation/refit/index_en.htm> accessed 18 December 2014

(13)Ibidem

(14)Ibidem

(15)DELOITTE. À propos de Deloitte (online). Deloitte. <http://www2.deloitte.com/fr/fr/legal/a-propos.html> accessed 18 December 2014

(16)TANSEY Rachel. The crusade against 'red tape': How the European Commission and big business push for deregulation (online). October 2014. Corporate Europe. p. 7 <http://corporateeurope.org/sites/default/files/attachments/red_tape_crusade.pdf> accessed 18 December 2014

(17)Ibidem

(18)Ibidem

(19)TANSEY Rachel. The crusade against 'red tape': How the European Commission and big business push for deregulation (online). October 2014. Corporate Europe. p. 4 <http://corporateeurope.org/sites/default/files/attachments/red_tape_crusade.pdf> accessed 18 December 2014

(20)EUROPEAN COMMISSION. Smart Regulation – REFIT (online). Last update : 17/12/2014. European Commission. <http://ec.europa.eu/smart-regulation/refit/index_en.htm> accessed 18 December 2014

(21)TANSEY Rachel. The crusade against 'red tape': How the European Commission and big business push for deregulation (online). October 2014. Corporate Europe. p. 4 <http://corporateeurope.org/sites/default/files/attachments/red_tape_crusade.pdf> accessed 18 December 2014

(22)Ibidem

(23)Ibidem

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