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EU seeks transparency in natural resources deals

21 February 2012, 11:40 CET
EU seeks transparency in natural resources deals

Photo © Vince Gayman - Fotolia

(BRUSSELS) - The EU took a step Monday towards ending secret deals between governments and large oil, gas, mining and logging firms by demanding that companies disclose payments in countries where they operate.

Industry ministers from the 27-nation bloc approved a plan by the European Commission that aims "to help fight corruption, abuse of public resources and money-laundering," said Denmark's Ole Sohn, the minister for business and growth.

The proposal calls for some 600 listed and non-listed firms involved in the extractive industry or in logging primary forests to disclose payments they make to governments in each country where they operate and for each project, said Internal Markets commissioner Michel Barnier.

But while there was general agreement on the need to improve transparency, further discussion will be needed on details, notably on whether the disclosure must be made on a project-by-project basis.

"Getting the detail right is critical," said Alexander Woollcombe of ONE, a global NGO. "Detailed payments must be disclosed at the project level, that's what ordinary people in developing countries tell us they want.

"A strong final law will empower citizens in developing countries with information they need to ensure revenues are invested in health care, transport and education, instead of lining the pockets of a few," he added.

Press release - 3147th COMPETITIVENESS Council meeting (provisional version) - Brussels, 20 and 21 February 2012

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