Bruxelles, 18th October 2013 — It was a show of force in keeping with the ambitions of American law firms that increasingly see the European Union’s vast apparatus as a vital lobbying opportunity for themselves and their multinational corporate clients.

Gathered at the Brussels office of Covington & Burling, a prominent Washington-based firm, were some of its lawyers and lobbyists, along with executives from some of the world’s largest oil companies, including Chevron and Statoil. Their aim was to help shape the European Union’s policies on the gas and oil drilling technology known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

They were meeting with Kurt Vandenberghe, then a top environmental official for Europe and a prime player in the debate over fracking, which is even more contentious in Europe than in the United States.

The host that day in June was Jean De Ruyt, a former Belgian diplomat whose career stretched from central Africa to the inner sanctum of the European Union and who is now an adviser at Covington. He and others on the recently expanded lobbying team there have delivered at least four senior European Union policy makers to the firm’s doorstep in recent months, including a top energy official, who arrived in September with a copy of a draft fracking plan that has yet to be made public.

“It’s key to us to be ahead of when the political debate starts,” Mr. De Ruyt said in an interview later. “Because by then, we can’t have an impact.”

 

As the European Union has emerged as a regulatory superpower affecting 28 countries that collectively form theworld’s largest economy, its policies have become ever more important to corporations operating across borders. In turn, the influence business in Brussels has become ever larger and more competitive, rivaled only by Washington’s.

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Priredio: Andrija Višić

Izvor: The New York Times

Foto: The New York Times

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