(Brussels, 25/04/2012) While a group of EU member states, including Germany and the UK, are attempting to water down new EU transparency legislation, Catholic bishops from around the world urge the EU to push forward and require European Union-listed and large unlisted extractive companies to publicly disclose the payments they make to governments worldwide. In a joint statement, supported by the international alliance of Catholic development agencies CIDSE, they say less stringent laws will fail to turn the resource curse of resource-rich developing countries into a blessing. A political agreement on the revision of the EU Transparency and Accounting Directives is expected in June 2012. (read in FR)
CIDSE President Chris Bain said: “We need to move quickly to adopt the reforms required for full extractive industry transparency, reforms for which Church groups and Catholic agencies across Europe have campaigned for ten years. I welcome the strong statement and moral leadership provided by Bishops from across the globe, and I hope that Europe’s leaders will listen to their powerful call for change. Industry lobbying must not be allowed to water down these much needed reforms. In a time of financial turmoil, we must continue to take the steps necessary to protect the poorest communities from exploitation, and ensure that they receive their fair share of corporate profits made from the natural wealth of their lands.”
The Bishops, including church leaders from resource-rich countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Peru, say EU legislation could contribute to turning developing countries’ natural resource wealth from a curse to a blessing if approved in its current form, allowing citizens to monitor payments. It would fail to make a difference, however, if the legislation would be watered down by EU member states.
For example, the church leaders argue that companies must be required to report on payments not just on an aggregated, country basis, but also on every financial dealing with official instances, with respect to all projects, including small ones.
During a recent visit to Brussels, Bishop Joseph Banga from the Democratic Republic of Congo explained why: “Even a ‘small’ 10,000 euro project could but have huge repercussions for surrounding communities. In addition to the impacts on the environment, various small mining projects employ children, who should be at school, in very poor working conditions.”
He also explained why this piece of EU legislation is so important for resource-rich developing countries. “Money made by exploiting our natural resources ends up abroad and in the pockets of unaccountable political elites. New European legislation can help to change this and that is why it is so important to us.” (see full video statement by Bishop Banga – 2.19min)
Contact: Roeland Scholtalbers, CIDSE Media and Communication Officer, scholtalbers(at)cidse.org, +32(0)2 282 40 73, +32(0)477068384
Notes to the editors:
- CIDSE is an international alliance of Catholic development agencies. Its 16 members from Europe and North America share a common strategy in their efforts to eradicate poverty and establish global justice. www.cidse.org
- CIDSE is acutely aware of the need for greater transparency and accountability in relation to global revenue flows, because our partners in resource-rich countries such as the DRC, Cambodia and Peru have voiced how difficult it is for them to get accurate data about payments made by transnational corporations to their governments. CIDSE urges the EU and its member states to approve the revision of the EU Transparency and Accounting Directives, which could do a lot to help billions living in poverty in resource rich countries.
- Video statement Mgr. Banga on EU company transparency requirements
- More information at www.cidse.org/cbcr