EU warns France over lobbying in rule-of-law report

(Photo: Jordan News)

BRUSSELS — The European Commission on Wednesday said France should do more to apply corporate lobbying rules, a warning that came with President Emmanuel Macron under pressure over his ties to US ride-hailing firm Uber.اضافة اعلان

In France a “significant number of concerns remain as regards the application of rules on lobbying for all relevant actors, including at top executive level,” said the commission.

The remarks were part of the commission’s annual report on the state of the rule of law in the EU.

The criticism of France comes just days after the “Uber Files” revelations, a vast, international investigation by journalists based on thousands of leaked internal company documents.

Amongst a trove of other details, The Guardian and Le Monde revealed privileged exchanges between Uber and Macron when he was economy minister, between 2014 and 2016.

The Commission’s report did not refer to the scandal or to Macron. But it said the French authority responsible for tracking and limiting the impact of lobbying “lacks human and technical resources”.

The report also criticized Poland and Hungary, saying democracy and fundamental rights were still under threat.

Poland was pilloried above all for the judiciary’s lack of independence. The commission criticized Hungary’s failure to adequately prosecute high-level corruption cases.

Poland’s Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro lashed out at the report, accusing the European Commission of seeking to “overthrow power with a democratic mandate in Poland”.

Hungary’s Prime Minister Gergely Gulyas denounced “a new, not very interesting chapter in the defamation campaign” of Brussels against his country.

Vera Jourova, the EU Vice-President responsible for values, stressed that this year’s report was set in an “extraordinary geopolitical context”.

While Russian President Vladimir Putin violates human rights in Ukraine, the EU can “only remain credible if our own house is in order”, she added.

According to the report, neither Poland nor Hungary guarantees freedom of the press.

Germany was also asked to take stronger action to curb the political influence of lobbyists.

The report said the German government had to tighten rules against the so-called revolving door where senior civil servants jump to private-sector jobs and use their influence on government.

That demand came as former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is under fire for his activities for Russian energy companies and faces expulsion from his SPD political party.

He was not named in the report.

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