The European Commission has excluded all stakeholders from an industry-dominated expert group on fracking following a complaint to the European Ombudsman from Friends of the Earth Europe and Corporate Europe Observatory.
The “European Science and Technology Network on Unconventional Hydrocarbon Extraction” was under investigation from the European Ombudsman for bias in favour of the fracking industry, and potential conflicts of interest from all working group chairs.
The European Commission consistently refuted the accusations, but has now taken the decision to move the work in-house, shortly before the Ombudsman presents her findings. The decision will take effect after the Annual conference on Tuesday 23 February.
Antoine Simon, shale gas campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said: “It’s no coincidence that the European Commission decides to scrap this expert group shortly before the European Ombudsman rules on our claim for malpractice. The fracking ‘Expert group’ was a lobby vehicle for the fracking industry, and its demise is a victory for the environment and the public interest.
Transparency is crucial now that the Commission has taken on the work of assessing the dangers of fracking. Shale gas development is deeply incompatible with tackling climate change, and is in complete contradiction to what little we got from the climate talks in Paris.”
Pascoe Sabido, researcher and campaigner at Corporate Europe Observatory said: “Ending fracking industry involvement in the group is surely a victory for the majority of European citizens opposed to the practice. Giving pro-fracking interests four-fifths of the seats, as well all chair and vice-chair positions, was only going to result in pro-industry recommendations. But closing the advisory group to all stake-holders points to a bigger problem: that the Commission simply couldn’t rebalance it away from industry.”
Both Friends of the Earth Europe and Corporate Europe Observatory, along with the Ombudsman and European Parliament, have repeatedly pointed to industry dominance in groups advising on everything from taxation to trade, something the European Commission continues to ignore.