Ship Ahoy! Lobby firm buys up EU maritime officials

Investigation originally published in the EUobserver 12.07.10

Transparency campaigners are worried that a PR outfit that lobbies the EU on maritime issues has “bought up the top of the EU’s maritime department lock, stock and barrel.”

The alert comes as Malta’s Joe Borg, the commissioner responsible for maritime affairs and fisheries until last year, gets set to start work with Fipra, a PR consultancy actively lobbying on maritime issues, whose main office is about 100 yards from the commission’s headquarters in Brussels.

On 11 June, the commission gave Mr Borg the green light to work at the firm, saying: “In view of the fact that Mr Borg’s envisaged activity falls outside the scope of his portfolio during his time in office,” it did not even need to convene its Ad Hoc Ethical Committee, a body which examines potential conflict of interest when commissioners leave the EU. Continue reading →

That €400 million Europe’s sending to Haiti? A bit decorative with the truth

Governments have a decidedly crafty habit of announcing, reannouncing and announcing once again the same tranche of funding but in different contexts (and even re-announcing the announcements), making it look as though they are being more generous than they really are. There’s even a principle that says that if you haven’t announced the same chunk of cash at least three times in three different ways, you haven’t got the full bang for your public relations buck.

Here, the euphemism of ‘being economical with the truth’ is inverted: when delivering spending announcements, governments are rather too bountiful with the truth.

The European Union’s announcement of over €400 million in emergency assistance to Haiti in the wake of its cataclysmic earthquake is an object lesson in this sort of funding announcement flimflammery – and, equally, how journalists can be unwitting or witting accomplices in this deceit. Continue reading →