Amazon lobbyists to be banned from European Parliament

Amazon lobbyists to be banned from European Parliament
Aerial view of the European Parliament in Brussels

The European Parliament has confirmed it will ban the lobbyists of American tech giant Amazon from accessing the premises after they refused to meet MEPs and discuss the working conditions of employees.

The decision was confirmed by the European Parliament on Tuesday after the internal deliberations of the institution's Quaestors – made up of five Members of the European Parliament (MEPs).

"In line with Rule 123/3 of the EP Rules of Procedure and at the request of the EMPL Committee, the Quaestors have authorised the Secretary-General to withdraw the long-term access badges of the interest representatives of Amazon," a spokesperson for the European Parliament confirmed to The Brussels Times.

According to other internal sources, the justifications for not attending the EP's Employment Committee provided by Amazon were not sufficient.

The Quaestors reportedly have also warned that there is now a risk of legal action from the company, as well as the possibility that lobbyists can still find ways inside the premises. They also stressed the need for the European Parliament to continue to work with Amazon in the future.

It is only the second time in the European Parliament's history that a corporation's lobbying badges have been revoked – the first time having been with Monsanto in 2017.

"This is an important victory against one of the largest and most powerful companies in the world," said Bram Vranken, a campaigner at Corporate Europe Observatory. "Amazon's utter disregard for democratic scrutiny of its exploitative business model will not be tolerated."

An Amazon spokesperson told The Brussels Times the company was "disappointed" with the decision. "Our commitment continues despite this decision.. We have on several occasions invited MEPs to visit our facilities. That invitation still stands."

Yet the tech giant's justifications were not deemed to be sufficient to avoid a longterm suspension. Under parliament rules, MEPs are also not allowed to organise committee trips during European election years between 1 April and 30 September.

Anti-democratic practices

The dispute arose after Amazon's continued refusal to engage with the European Parliament’s Employment Committee on crucial issues concerning working conditions within its warehouses. It declined an invitation to participate in a hearing on 23 January, saying there was no one available at the company to attend that day.

In response, several MEPs had urged the withdrawal of lobbying badges from the tech giant’s representatives, effectively barring them from the Parliament's corridors.

Over 30 trade unions and civil society organisations – including Corporate Europe Observatory and UNI Europa – sent a joint letter to European Parliament President Roberta Metsola in support of the removal of Amazon’s badges.

European trade union confederation UNI Europa welcomed the move on Tuesday, stating that "Amazon’s anti-democratic behaviour won’t be tolerated – whether that’s towards trade unions or parliaments."

Last week, the move had been supported by the leaders of the Socialists & Democrats, Greens, Left and Renew Europe in the European Parliament during the Conference of the Presidents meeting, which was then referred the issue to the Quaestors.

Furthermore, the Secretariat of the EU Transparency Register is investigating Amazon for failing to report on its affiliations to several think tanks and declaring a lobbying budget that is seemingly too low.

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