The State Under the Power of Lobbies

In a report published on June 25th, the NGO “Friends of the Earth International” and the “Multinationals Observatory” have both denounced the influence of the private sector on the senior French civil service.

The document points to a “lobbying” of “economic circles” with the Council of State and the Constitutional Council to amend the legislation in their favor.

Juliette Renaud of the “Friends of the Earth” affirms in a statement released on Monday:
“The Constitutional Council is supposed to find the right balance between rights and freedoms, but it is clear that the balance inclines on the side of the economic interests too”.

To support these accusations, the NGO and the Multinationals Observatory cite the case of the “Hulot law” on hydrocarbons, which has been adopted in December by the Parliament and, according to the report, “it has largely been stripped of its content”. “The data of the new register of transparency of representatives of interests, created by the law Sapin 2, confirms that many economic actors have mobilized with ministries and parliamentarians” during debates around the Hulot law.

Among these “representatives of interests”, the document pinpoints Total, the oil company Vermilion, Medef and the French Union of Petroleum Industries. According to the authors of the report, the latter two would have sent “external contributions” to the Council of State at the time of examining the draft law.

The case of the Hulot law is not isolated according to the NGO and the Observatory, which report similar lobbying operations when drawing up “several transparency and tax justice measures”.

To counter this influence at the limit of the conflict of interest, the report sets out several requirements, including “the publication of the text and authors of external contributions”, “the addition of members and agents of the Constitutional Council and the Council of State to the list of public officials covered by the directory of representatives of interests “or” a stricter, more independent and more transparent supervision of the departure of senior officials to the private sector “.

In a letter, the authors of the report also asked the institution to adopt a regulation designed to “better regulate the procedure of constitutional review and the role of external contributions in decisions”.

This is not the first time that the influence of lobbies on the civil service is pinned, and we know that many citizens and NGOs regularly denounce this state of affairs and call for greater transparency concerning these interest groups.

Indeed, although the influence of lobbies is omnipresent, no evidence can demonstrate this formally, because today there is no lobbying regulation in France. While the associations defending the general interest work in transparency, the lobbies serving private interests act in utter opacity.

The Anti-Zionist Party denounces the influence of the major economic groups, which henceforth devote the superiority of “free enterprise” to the “common good” and the “general interest”.

It is imperative that the state, representing French citizens, not multinationals or economic and financial groups, put in place laws to regulate lobbying, and compel interest representatives to declare their funding, the resources they use to influence the public decision, the arguments they use, the legislative proposals they pass on, the decision-makers they meet …

It is time to create a mandatory transparency register for all, and punish anyone who fails to comply with the obligations and rules that have been put in place.

However, knowing that most of our decision-makers are intimately connected with this influential private sector, or come directly from, or have the ambition to join it, it is a safe bet that no serious law will be put forth to control these groups of interests that can continue to act as they please and impose their wishes, even when they will be against the general interest.

This is the sad reality of the model of society that is imposed on us and that we are told is “good for us” and that there is no better alternative.