Businesses shun ‘dodgy’ raw materials club

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This article is part of our special report Raw Materials.

A new MEP group on raw materials, set up last month in the European Parliament, wants to launch a parallel "club" for companies. But many businesses consider the club as "too dodgy" and some companies have said they will withhold membership.

German MEP Karl-Heinz Florenz (European People's Party), chairman of the MEP group, announced at a press conference today (1 March) that the new raw materials club of companies is to be organised by an Austrian consultancy.

He said it would be launched before the end of the month, but according to sources there are already major concerns about its integrity.

Industry sources say that the Austrian consultancy is new to Brussels and close to Florenz and another member of the raw materials group, Austrian MEP Paul Rübig (also EPP).

When asked to name the consultancy, Florenz declined to answer and said that club members would not be "married" to the "platform" and could choose to join another one at any time.

However, some powerful companies have already said they would prefer to stay out of the club amid concerns about its transparency.

Among these are major firms hailing from the steel and recycling sectors, EURACTIV has learned.

A further bone of contention is the entry fee, which industry sources say is a four-digit number plus a yearly fee, which may discourage smaller companies from joining.

Sources say the fee is considered prohibitive, particularly given that most companies are already paying consultancies of their own to do communications work.

Despite Florenz's assurance that there will be "strict separation" between the parliamentary group of MEPs and the club, whose members will exclusively consist of companies, concerns have been raised that such a separation may prove artificial.

Florenz himself said at today's press conference that "there is hardly another problem on which industry and politics must cooperate as closely" as on the issue of raw materials.

Yet he claims that there will be no cashflow between the club and the group and that the cooperation will merely be project-based.

A special group of MEPs was set up in the European Parliament last month to collect first-hand information on the issues affecting the availability and price of raw materials, under the chairmanship of German MEP Karl-Heinz Florenz (European People's Party).

The group unites MEPs from different nationalities, groups and committees and hopes to intervene in raw materials policy on different levels (trade, development and environment) and at an earlier level than the European Commission.

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