American Chamber of Commerce to the European Union

Background

The American Chamber of Commerce to the European Union (AmCham EU) is an association of American businesses in the EU. According to its website, “AmCham EU speaks for American companies committed to Europe on trade, investment and competitiveness issues.”1About Us,” AmCham EU. Archived October 26, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/IXnvD 

The organization states that it aims to “ensure a growth-orientated business and investment climate in Europe.”

AmCham EU specializes in a number of policy areas including agriculture and food, trade, and the environment.2Policy Areas,” AmCham EU. Archived October 26, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/ZX6Gk 

The group’s website states, “the Agriculture and Food Committee identifies and provides representation at the European level on issues which have an agriculture and food (agro-food) perspective including the Farm to Fork Strategy. It seeks to influence key EU decision-makers to ensure that legislation is created and implemented fairly and adopts a collaborative approach between authorities, civil society, academics and the private sector.”3Agriculture & Food,” AmCham EU. Archived October 26, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/h35C6 

AmCham EU says that it aims to be the “most valued lobbying force in the EU,” and targets EU member countries for its “outreach” as well as the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the Executive Council.45 year vision 2019-2024,” AmCham EU, published by the European Commission. Archived October 26, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

Members of AmCham EU include agrochemical companies Syngenta and Gowen, chemical companies Dow and DuPont, fossil fuel company ExxonMobil, tobacco company Philip Morris, and arms company Lockheed Martin, according to the group’s website.5Members,” AmCham EU. Archived October 26, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/wSEfi 

AmCham EU is a member of the European Council of American Chambers of Commerce (AmChams in Europe), “the umbrella organization for 46 American Chambers of Commerce (AmChams) from 44 countries throughout Europe and Eurasia.” AmChams in Europe claims to represent 17,000 U.S. and European businesses.6About,” AmChams in Europe. Archived October 26, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/ydGMu 7Members,” AmChams in Europe. Archived December 16, 2022. Archive URL: http://archive.today/XISV4

Susan Danger, the CEO of AmCham EU, is also chairwoman of AmChams in Europe network.8Executive Committee,” AmChams in Europe. Archived October 26, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/bpCkR

AmCham EU has long been considered a significant and powerful lobby group.

In a 1996 paper published in the Journal of European Public Policy, University of North Carolina political scientist Maria Green Cowles suggested that AmCham EU – then known as the EU Committee of AmCham – was responsible for establishing American-style lobbying in the EU, “along with a complex intelligence network previously unknown in Brussels.” Cowles found that the group’s approach had become a “model for other industry groups” through its “‘power of information’ and extensive institutional ties.”9Maria Green Cowles. “The EU Committee of AmCham: The powerful voice of American firms in Brussels,”Journal of European Public Policy, Volume 3, Issue 3, 1996. Archived October 26, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/fYhRh 

In 1998, The Economist wrote that AmCham EU was commonly considered to be “the most effective lobbying force in town.”10The Brussels lobbyist and the struggle for ear-time,” The Economist, August 13, 1998. Archived October 26, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/dGW54 

In 2017 Corporate Europe Observatory stated that AmCham EU was a key lobbyist in the EU for U.S.-based multinational corporations:11Lobby Planet Brussels,” Corporate Europe Observatory, June 2017. Archived October 26, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

“AmCham lobbies for US transnationals on virtually every piece of EU legislation. From the very beginnings of the EU, the transatlantic business community has seen the European Commission as a way to boost access for US companies to a unified European market. A connoisseur of the revolving door, AmCham has been intimately involved in wheeling and dealing at the EU institutions for years. Its specialist committees draw on insider and expert knowledge about EU policy. AmCham’s board of CEOs and other representatives of member companies routinely meet European Commissioners, Directors-General (58 Commission meetings in 2015-16) and are active at the Council, lobbying representatives of national governments.”

A 2021 academic analysis of data from the European Commission Transparency Register, which records lobbying activity in the EU, found that the American Chamber of Commerce was the EU’s eighth most active corporate lobby organization between 2014 and 2019.12Marcel Hanegraaff, Arlo Poletti. “The Rise of Corporate Lobbying in the European Union: An Agenda for Future Research,” Journal of Common Market Studies, January 18, 2021. Archived October 25, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/yGOuF  

AmCham EU has been accused of lobbying against tighter tobacco regulations. According to Tobacco Tactics, a project of the Tobacco Control Research Group, part of the Department for Health at the University of Bath, AmCham EU “is against proposals by the European Commission to include plain packaging in the EU Tobacco Products Directive Revision,” and that tobacco company Philip Morris used “AmCham as a front to engage with the Commission” during the 1990s.13The American Chamber of Commerce to the European Union,” Tobacco Tactics, February 5, 2020. Archived October 26, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/x5cYR

Stance on Climate Change

On its website, AmCham EU states that its member companies are “playing an active role in the transition towards a greener economy in Europe” and “will continue to be constructive partners in the definition and implementation of climate policies.” Writing about COP27, the 2022 United Nations climate conference, AmCham EU wrote that attendees must “drive investment in low-carbon technologies, prepare for the socio-economic consequences of the energy transition and set near-term milestones to reach our long-term targets.”14European Green Deal,” AmCham EU. Archived October 26, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/WV8S4 

AmCham EU takes a pro-”innovation” stance when it comes to addressing climate change, writing that “priority must be given to the promotion of cutting-edge innovation that can find alternatives to harmful substances, which can protect human health and natural resources.” AmCham EU’s website emphasizes the role of corporate innovation in addressing climate change.15European Green Deal,” AmCham EU. Archived October 26, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/WV8S4 

AmCham EU also runs a communication campaign called “The Green Way,” which spotlights “climate solutions” success stories from its members, including reduced-tillage farming and the trading of carbon certificates by Cargill. “The Green Way” has also highlighted a bio-fungicide developed by agrichemical company Gowan,16Protecting crops – and the environment,” AmCham EU. Archived June 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.vn/NnplQ “carbon-free” farming and biomethane-powered farm vehicles,17Towards carbon-free farming with bio-methane,” AmCham EU. Archived June 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.vn/u2H1l liquid natural gas and bio-LNG trucks,18Bio-LNG powered trucks gather momentum,” AmCham EU. Archived June 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.vn/VIHro and “sustainable aviation fuels.”19The sky is the limit with sustainable aviation fuels,” AmCham EU. Archived June 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.vn/JWHfp

NGOs have accused AmCham EU of lobbying against climate regulation, due to its support for continued use of methane or “natural gas” – a fossil fuel – as part of the climate transition20.“Fracking Brussels – a Who’s Who of the EU Shale Gas Lobby,” Friends of the Earth, July 2014. Archived October 26, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

Regarding the climate impact of agriculture, AmCham EU’s website argues: “Global food systems account for nearly one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions and result in severe biodiversity losses; they need to be redesigned. Transitioning towards more sustainable food systems should be made in a holistic, fair and coordinated way, in cooperation with all actors at all levels of the food and feed supply chain.”21European Green Deal,” AmCham EU. Archived October 26, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/WV8S4 

Stance on European Green Deal

AmCham EU has expressed support for the EU’s Green Deal. The group’s 2021 annual report stated that during COP26, the 2021 United Nations climate conference, AmChamEU “stressed its commitment to supporting Europe’s green transition fuelled by the Green Deal.”222021 Annual Report,” AmCham EU. Archived October 26, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

In its June 2022 recommendations to the Czech Presidency, AmCham EU commented on Fit for 55, the EU’s target to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030​. It stated: “The climate and energy policy framework developed for emissions reduction should be all encompassing and promote harmonised legislation to balance sustainability, competitiveness and innovation.”23Recommendations to the Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union,” AmCham EU, July-December 2022. Archived October 26, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

In 2020, AmCham EU’s public consultation response on the European Commission’s 2030 climate targets suggested that higher emissions targets could pose a risk to “international competitiveness” and lead to “societal inequalities.”24AmCham EU. “Contributions EU Climate Ambition 2030,” European Commission, March-June 2020. Archived October 26, 2022. Archived .cvs on file at DeSmog.

AmCham EU has lobbied widely on the EU Green Deal. It has hosted multiple events involving representatives of the European Commission and EU member states, and has held five official meetings with commission ministers about the Green Deal.25American Chamber of Commerce to the European Union,” LobbyFacts. Archived October 26, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/5b8zk 26Meetings – AmCham EU,” European Commission Transparency Register, August 24, 2022. Archived August 24, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

AmCham EU has a Green Deal Working Group, which as of October 2021 was lead by Thomas Narbeshuber, Managing Director of BASF Hungary.27AmCham EU Green Deal Plenary Session on Sustainable Agriculture 20211011,” YouTube video uploaded by user AmCham Hungary on October 12, 2021. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

Stance on Farm to Fork Strategy

A number of AmCham EU’s key targets for lobbying – listed in its EU Transparency Register profile – relate to food and agriculture. It lists the following priorities:28American Chamber of Commerce to the European Union,” European Commission Transparency Register, March 15, 2022. Archived October 26, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/yKzlr

  • “Technological revolution in the agro-food sector and the role of science”
  • “The future of EU farming and agriculture”
  • “Coherence of the EU food and nutrition agenda with the Single Market”
  • “Sustainability in the agro-food supply chain”
  • “Agriculture in trade negotiations and the EU-US relationship”

AmCham EU holds influence in EU decision-making on agriculture-related issues. AmCham EU is a member of an advisory group – the “international aspects of agriculture group” – which “can be consulted by the European Commission on all matters concerning the operation of various common organizations of markets and other areas covered by the common agricultural policy (CAP) and the rural development policy.29”“American Chamber of Commerce to the European Union,” European Commission Transparency Register, March 15, 2022. Archived October 26, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/yKzlr 30CDG International aspects of agriculture (E03197),” European Commission. Archived October 26, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/jGkQE 

While other members of the committee include civil society organizations like Friends of the Earth, these are outnumbered two to one by those representing agribusiness interests –  such as the farmer and agri-cooperative union COPA COGECA, and the industry association FoodDrinkEurope.31CDG International aspects of agriculture (E03197),” European Commission. Archived October 26, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/jGkQE 

Since 2020, EU agricultural policy has centered around the Farm to Fork Strategy (F2F), the EU’s plan for transitioning to a more sustainable food system. Farm to Fork, which is part of the European Green Deal, includes 2030 targets to reduce the use and risk of chemical pesticides by 50 percent, reduce the use of fertilizers by 20 percent, and increase the amount of land under organic farming to 25 percent. 

AmCham EU has lobbied on F2F, publishing a position paper on the strategy which provided recommendations to incoming EU presidencies, and held events and meetings about F2F.32Our Position – The Farm to Fork Strategy: Towards a sustainable agri-food system in Europe,” AmCham EU, June 24, 2020. Archived December 16, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

AmCham EU has stated that it supports Farm to Fork while simultaneously pushing for changes or delays to the strategy, such as the introduction of impact assessments and the move towards “science-based” risk assessments for agricultural and other climate technologies. It has suggested that innovation should play a central role in the transition to low-carbon agriculture. 

AmCham EU held official meetings with members of the European Commission’s directorate general of agriculture (DG-AGRI) in February 2020 and November 2021, at which discussions included Farm to Fork. The second meeting was with AmCham EU’s Agriculture and Food Committee, in which Syngenta and Cargill were reportedly the most active members.33Meetings – AmCham EU,” European Commission Transparency Register, August 24, 2022. Archived August 24, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 34Email from AmCham EU to Maciej Golubiewski. “Subject: meeting with Am-Cham EU – follow up,” provided by the European Commission, accessed via AsktheEU, February 28, 2020. Archived December 16, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 35Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development. “Subject: Summary of the meeting between Head of Cabinet Golubiewski and the Agriculture and Food Committee of the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham), 30 November 2021,” provided by European Commission, accessed via AsktheEU, November 30, 2021. Archived December 16, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

Notes from the November meeting indicate that members questioned officials on the F2F strategy’s target of increasing organic farming to 25 percent of all agriculture in the EU by 2030.36Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development. “Subject: Summary of the meeting between Head of Cabinet Golubiewski and the Agriculture and Food Committee of the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham), 30 November 2021,” provided by European Commission, accessed via AsktheEU, November 30, 2021. Archived December 16, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

Other American Chambers of Commerce in Europe have also lobbied on Farm to Fork. 

AmCham Poland held a meeting with the DG Agriculture in June 2021, during which participants “relayed farmers’ concerns about the negative impacts of the Green Deal, including on PL [Polish] food exports.” In response, EU officials reassured the group that Farm to Fork and its associated Biodiversity Strategy “contain certain goals and ambitions but they are not legislative documents.”37Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development. “Subject: Meeting with American Chamber of Commerce in Poland (Agricultural Committee),” provided by European Commission, accessed via AsktheEU, June 29, 2021. Archived December 16, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

Actions

AmCham EU has pushed for what it calls “science-based regulations” for agrochemicals including pesticides, as well as biotechnology.38Consultation response: Response to the call for proposals for EU-US regulatory cooperation activities,” AmCham EU, April 2019. Archived December 16, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. In practice, the group’s preferred policies would lead to lower regulatory standards on biotechnologies like GMO as well as pesticides in the EU, and align them more closely with the weaker regulatory standards of the U.S. 

In its 2022 ‘Recommendations to the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union’, AmCham EU argued for the need to “ground the EU chemicals management system in a risk-based approach.”39Recommendations to the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union,” AmCham EU, January 2022. Archived December 16, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

In 2019, AmCham EU submitted a consultation response to the EU’s call for proposals for EU-U.S. regulatory cooperation activities, stating:40Consultation response: Response to the call for proposals for EU-US regulatory cooperation activities,” AmCham EU, April 2019. Archived December 16, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

“There is a significant time lag in EU authorisations for the introduction of biotechnology plants and other bio-inventions, in comparison to other countries including the US. Both parties should work cooperatively to eliminate risks of trade disruptions by driving for timely, science-based and effective implementation of existing laws for biotech approvals of products.” 

AmCham EU’s response also addressed “the discrepancy of maximum residue levels (MRLs) between EU and origination areas including the US,” calling the gap a “growing risk for the trade and local European industries.” The response argued that issues related to pesticides would “benefit” from increased “regulatory cooperation” between the U.S. and EU, particularly with regard to establishing maximum pesticide residue limits. It concluded that “The two parties should both promote science-based risk assessments as the basis for their regulatory frameworks and cooperation.” 

Lobbying for Impact Assessments

AmCham EU has called for impact assessments that examine the projected impacts of the  Green Deal and Farm to Fork.41Our Position – The Farm to Fork Strategy: Towards a sustainable agri-food system in Europe,” AmCham EU, June 24, 2020. Archived December 16, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

For example, AmCham EU called for the EU to “carry out a comprehensive cumulative impact assessment on all Green Deal initiatives affecting farming”, and stated:42Recommendations to the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union,” AmCham EU, January 2022. Archived December 16, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 43Our Position – The Farm to Fork Strategy: Towards a sustainable agri-food system in Europe,” AmCham EU, June 24, 2020. Archived December 16, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

“Climate and biodiversity crises need to be seen in a global perspective, where the EU does not export the problems, while at the same time putting food security at risk. Impact assessments should be required for every new or amended policy being proposed, rather than being required only when the Commission regards the potential impacts of a policy as ‘substantial’. In many cases, only the impact assessment reveals the magnitude of the consequences.”

​Multiple influential farming and agribusiness groups have made similar calls for impact assessments. Corporate Europe Observatory has said that agribusiness lobby groups “flooded” the European Commission with calls for cumulative assessments, and Politico reported that such analyses have been “a key lobbying objective of Farm to Fork skeptics.”44A loud lobby for a silent spring: The pesticide industry’s lobbying tactics against Farm to Fork,” Corporate Europe Observatory, March 17, 2022. Archived July 26, 2022. Archive PDF: https://archive.ph/hpFb3 45Eddy Wax. “MEPs vote on EU’s green food plan amid lobbying blitz,” Politico Europe, October 17, 2021. Archived August 4, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/6sAeB 

According to Corporate Europe Observatory, such impact assessments “tend to favour economic factors over social and environmental ones,” adding that they are “only delaying progress towards tackling the climate emergency.”46Vicky Cann. “Exploiting the Ukraine crisis for Big Business,” Corporate Europe Observatory, July 28, 2022. Archived October 25, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/dSLE8 

MEPs responded to calls during their vote on Farm to Fork in October 2021. The Parliament made just one amendment to the strategy: the commitment to conduct “robust, scientific ex-ante impact assessments” on any upcoming legal proposals.47Eddy Wax. “EU’s green food plan survives lobby push in MEPs’ votes,” Politico, October 20, 2021. Archived December 16, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/Ri5oo 

Lobbying for Natural Gas as Climate Solution

While AmCham EU has stated that it supports the EU’s emissions reduction targets, it has maintained a pro-natural gas stance that has been widely challenged by scientists and NGOs. 

In 2020, AmCham EU submitted a response to the European Commission’s public consultation on its 2030 climate targets. When asked about the role of natural gas, AmCham EU agreed that “natural gas can help the EU reach the 2030 targets as it is a more climate friendly alternative to coal or oil in heating, transport and power generation and it is a source of flexibility for an increasingly renewable energy based power system.” AmCham EU also argued that “as long as natural gas demand is strong, the EU should allow public support for the construction of new gas pipelines.”48“Contributions EU Climate Ambition 2030,” AmCham EU’s response published by the European Commission, March 31, 2020 – June 23, 2020. Archived August 22, 2022. Archived .ods on file at DeSmog.

AmCham EU’s members include companies involved in the extraction and sale of methane or natural gas such as ExxonMobil and AES, which are both marketing natural gas as a lower-carbon energy source for climate transition.49Members,” AmCham EU. Archived October 26, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/wSEfi  50Natural Gas,” ExxonMobil. Archived October 26, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/vQmwh 51Energas and AES break the Dominican Republic’s reliance on oil,” AES. Archived October 26, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/82h4E 

AmCham EU is accredited by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is also funded by companies involved in the natural gas industry. According to a 2017 analysis by Public Citizen, energy companies made up over 10 percent of the US Chamber’s identified donors.52The Chamber of Secrets: An Investigation into Who Funds the Notoriously Opaque U.S. Chamber of Commerce,” Public Citizen, September 13, 2017. Archived October 26, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

While the fossil fuel industry emphasizes that “natural” gas – which is composed of methane, one of the most potent greenhouse gasses – is a lower-carbon energy source than either coal or oil, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is clear that burning natural gas is the third most carbon-intensive method of generating electricity.53Thomas Bruckner. “Annex III: Technology-specific Cost and Performance Parameters,” IPCC, 2014. Archived October 26, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 54Jessica McDonald. “How potent is methane?,” FactCheck.org, September 24, 2018. Archived October 26, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/sO5OJ 

In July 2022, AmCham EU published a position paper responding to the European Commission’s proposal for its revised Gas Directive and Regulation – a measure which aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the gas industry. 

AmCham EU argued that the commission “must take an objective and rational approach so as to not destroy those areas of the economy where natural gas is still required in the mid- or long-term when combined with carbon capture and storage or used as feedstock,” referring to the production of fertilizers.55Our Position: EU hydrogen and gas market decarbonisation package,” AmCham EU. Archived October 26, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

The fertilizer industry has been accused of “collaborating” with the fossil fuel industry “to launder fossil fuels—particularly gas—as an ever-expanding source of both ‘clean’ energy and ‘clean’ agrochemicals.”56Dana Drugmand, Steven Feit, Lili Fuhr, and Carroll Muffett. “Fossils, Fertilizers, and False Solutions: How Laundering Fossil Fuels in Agrochemicals Puts the Climate and the Planet at Risk,” Centre for International Environmental Law, October 2022. Archived November 1, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

Lobbying for “Innovation”

AmCham EU consistently presents innovation as a critical climate solution in agriculture and other areas.57“Contributions EU Climate Ambition 2030,” AmCham EU’s response published by the European Commission, March 31, 2020 – June 23, 2020. Archived August 22, 2022. Archived .ods on file at DeSmog. 58Our Position – The Farm to Fork Strategy: Towards a sustainable agri-food system in Europe,” AmCham EU, June 24, 2020. Archived December 16, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

For example, AmCham’s recommendations for the Czech presidency of the EU argues: “Cutting-edge innovation to find alternatives to harmful substances can protect human health and safeguard the natural environment.”59Recommendations to the Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union,” AmCham EU, July-December 2022. Archived October 26, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

AmCham EU has framed its push for innovation in the context of global food security. A September 2021 blog post on its website argues:60Effective risk communication for an innovative, sustainable and trusted agri-food industry,” AmCham EU, September 2, 2021. Archived December 16, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/bDhKZ  

“As global food insecurity rises, innovation will be key to the agri-food sector’s ability to feed the world. Regulators and risk assessors have a vital role to play for a sustainable, secure and trusted industry capable of feeding more mouths with a smaller footprint. 

“…food is the major source of land-use by humans. Indeed, of the 72% of ice-free land that we have put to use, half of that is for the production of food for the species. With the global population set to reach 10 billion by 2050 (versus 7.8 billion in 2021), it is clear that the agri-food sector will have to do more with less in order to meet the most basic needs of the species in a sustainable way.” 

However, the claims that we must “do more with less” and that innovation is the solution for this have both been contested. 

A 2018 study from Lancaster University found that global crop production was sufficient to meet projected nutritional needs in 2050, if there were radical societal changes.61M. Berners-Lee, C. Kennelly, R. Watson, C. N. Hewitt. “Current global food production is sufficient to meet human nutritional needs in 2050 provided there is radical societal adaptation,” Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene, 2018. Archived July 28, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/pBNr6 

Other academics have pointed out that “Production is not even the most important factor in reducing hunger, much less the only one.”62Dr. M. Jahi Chappell. “‘Sustainable intensification’ is unsustainable,” Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, September 3, 2014. Archived July 28, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/jONI1 

A key architect of the EU Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, has stated: “We’ve created a system that pushes farmers to increase and go bigger all the time. But that system has pushed the Earth past its limits.” According to Politico, Timmerman argued in 2021 that we must “stop counting success in terms of the number of ‘wagons of food’ we produce.”63Eddy Wax and Emma Anderson. “The transatlantic relationship descends into a food fight,” Politico, September 29, 2021. Archived December 16, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/ady2F 

Advocacy for a “Science-based” Approach

Throughout its communications, AmCham EU pushes for “science-based” legislation and risk-assessments of innovation – an approach that would transform the EU’s regulation of technologies like GMOs. 

‘Science-based’ approaches are often contrasted with the UK and EU’s “precautionary” approach and imply weaker regulations, with governments forced to provide “a very high level of proof that a product is dangerous” before restrictions can be put in place, according to the Pesticide Action Network.64Pesticides Action Network, Sustain, and Dr. Emily Lydgate. “Toxic Trade: How trade deals threaten to weaken UK pesticide standards,” PAN UK, June 2020. Archived December 6, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

AmCham EU’s post on innovation stated:65Effective risk communication for an innovative, sustainable and trusted agri-food industry,” AmCham EU, September 2, 2021. Archived December 16, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/bDhKZ 

“…the innovations that the world needs [to meet food demands] cannot come to market without the backing of regulatory bodies such as the Food and Drug Association in the US, or the European Food Safety Authority, whose job it is to protect consumers from potential health risks and ensure they are well informed of the science that keeps them safe.” 

It continued: 

“AmCham EU is a strong supporter of a science-based approach to risk assessments in the agri-food sector. The removal of regulatory bottlenecks to innovation, such as lengthy approval procedures of novel ingredients and production techniques would go a long way to harnessing the innovation wave that can make our food systems more sustainable.” 

AmCham EU has lobbied on these principles. For example, in 2021, it held a three-hour event on “risk perception” and stated on its website that “policies in this domain should be based on science.” The event featured several senior European Union and U.S. government officials:66Managing risk perception influence to ensure sustainable policies (invited guests),” AmCham EU, September 8, 2021. Archived December 16, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

  • Matjaž Guček, Director General and Chief Veterinary Officer, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food 
  • Jason Hafemeister, Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, US Department of Agriculture 
  • Anastasia Alvizou, Deputy Head of Unit, Farm to Fork Strategy, European Commission; 
  • Anthony Smith, Social Scientist – Risk Communication, European Food Safety Authority; 
  • Irène Tolleret, Member of the European Parliament (RE, FR) 
  • Nathalie Chaze, Director, Food Sustainability, International Relations, DG SANTE, European Commission
  • Elise H. Golan, Director for Sustainable Development, US Department of Agriculture

Funding

AmCham EU does not disclose its sources of funding on its website.

Lobbying

In 2021, AmCham EU spent 1,250,000 – 1,499,999 euros on lobbying, according to its entry on the EU Transparency Register.67American Chamber of Commerce to the European Union,” European Commission Transparency Register, March 15, 2022. Archived December 16, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.vn/YnMX0

According to Lobby Facts, it spent over 5.5 million euros on lobbying between 2016 and 2020.68American Chamber of Commerce to the European Union,” LobbyFacts. Archived December 16, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/lC4hC 

Since 2014, AmCham EU has held 153 official meetings with departments of the European Commission.69AmCham EU. “Meetings,” European Commission Transparency Register, August 24, 2022. Archived August 24, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

It has also hosted numerous talks, plenary meetings, and networking events with MEPs, EU officials, representatives of EU member states, and U.S. government representatives. 

AmCham EU has organized meetings and networking events for its members with representatives of the EU. For example, according to a July 2022 update on its website:70AmCham EU in Strasbourg: building connections with MEPs,” AmCham EU, July 11, 2022. Archived December 16, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/Lxmie 

“Last week, an AmCham EU delegation of 60 members travelled to the European Parliament in Strasbourg. On Monday, 4 July and Tuesday, 5 July, participants had the chance to meet with more than 100 MEPs from the largest political groups in the Parliament. …[T]his year members looked to make up for lost time after a two-year in-person hiatus.” 

The event included a keynote speech by Klaus Welle, Secretary General of the European Parliament. 

AmCham EU has significant clout when it comes to bringing together multiple government officials alongside business. For example, in October 2021, the AmCham EU Executive Committee held a meeting to discuss the European Green Deal and Fit for 55 policies, as well as the upcoming annual international climate conference COP26. Attendees included:71AmCham EU Executive Council holds plenary with top EU officials”, AmCham EU, November 2, 2021. Archived December 16, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.vn/zsC1T

  • Adina Vălean, Commissioner, Transport, European Commission
  • Ambassador David O’Sullivan, Senior Counsellor, Steptoe & Johnson (Previously Ambassador of the European Union to the United States)
  • Ambassador Michael Clauss, Permanent Representation of Germany to the EU
  • Angela Paolini Ellard, Deputy Director-General, World Trade Organisation
  • Kelly Adams-Smith, Chargé d’Affaires, US Mission to the European Union
  • Margaritis Schinas, Vice-President, Promoting our European Way of Life, European Commission

In June 2021, AmCham EU hosted a roundtable with EU Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, who was “on her first visit overseas.”72AmCham EU hosts Commissioner Breton and Secretary Raimondo,” AmCham EU, June 14, 2021. Archived December 16, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/qW5FC

Key People 

AmCham EU’s staff and board members have multiple links with both climate intensive industries and EU bodies. 

AmCham EU’s current CEO is Susan Danger. Danger is also the current chair of AmChams in Europe, the umbrella organization for nation-based American Chambers of Commerce throughout Europe and Eurasia. She also sits on the governing board of the European Policy Centre, a think tank on EU public affairs.73Susan Danger,” LinkedIn. Archived December 16, 2022. Archived .png on file at DeSmog.

ExxonMobil Vice President of EU Affairs Nikolaas Baeckelmans is a member of the AmCham EU board.74Board,” AmCham EU. Archived December 16, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/vHqn0 

Baeckelmans has worked at ExxonMobil since 1991. He has defended ExxonMobil against well-documented allegations that the company deceived the public by downplaying the certainty of climate science.75EU Considers Banning Exxon Lobbying Because of Company’s Climate Deception,” The Climate Docket, March 21, 2019. Archived December 16, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.vn/7QGVG 

Baeckelmans has argued that such accusations are “distortions of ExxonMobil’s nearly 40-year history of climate research.”76Letter from Nikolaas Baeckelmans to Adina-Ioana Valean, MEP, and Cicilia Wilkstrom, MEP. “Dear Chairs, I write regarding a joint hearing of the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee and the Petitions Committee proposed for March 21, 2019 on the topic of ‘Climate Change Denial’,” ExxonMobil, Shared by Pascoe Sabido on Twitter. Archived December 16, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

Multiple staff members have also held positions in public bodies or other industry organizations prior to their roles at AmCham EU:77Staff,” AmCham EU. Archived December 16, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/NWPjd

  • Roger Coelho – the Information and Communication Unit in DG Enlargement at the European Commission
  • Stefano Marmo – the European Commission Representation in the UK and for a Member of the European Parliament.
  • Michal Chvojka – the Schuman Traineeship Programme at the European Parliament in Brussels.
  • Francoise Soudaz – Friends of Europe, a Brussels-based think tank
  • Jelena Letljane – a traineeship in the European Parliament in the European Union Visitors Programme.
  • Roberta Brumana – Political Adviser at the Secretariat General of the ALDE Party; and a traineeship in the Secretariat General of the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament.
  • Miranda Tiona – the Department for International Trade at the British Embassy, the International Government Affairs team at ExxonMobil and the US House of Representatives.
  • Marsha Lukyanchuk – Shell in various leadership roles across marketing, sales and business development

Affiliations

AmCham EU is a member of AmChams in Europe, which “serves as the umbrella organization for 46 American Chambers of Commerce (AmChams) from 44 countries throughout Europe and Eurasia.”78Members,” AmChams in Europe. Archived December 16, 2022. Archive URL: http://archive.today/XISV4 It claims to represent more than 17,000 businesses in Europe and the US.79About Us,” AmCham EU. Archived October 26, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/IXnvD

Susan Danger, the CEO of AmChams EU, is also the board chair of AmChams in Europe.80Executive Committee,” AmChams in Europe. Archived October 26, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/bpCkR

According to an AmCham EU webinar on the Green Deal and Sustainable Agriculture, posted by AmCham Hungary in 2021, Thomas Narbeshuber, Managing Director of BASF Hungary is Lead of the AmCham EU Green Deal Working Group. Anja Klatt, Senior Manager Government Affairs – crop protection for BASF also spoke during the event.81AmCham EU Green Deal Plenary Session on Sustainable Agriculture 20211011,” YouTube video uploaded by user AmCham Hungary on October 12, 2021. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

Affiliation with U.S. Chamber of Commerce

AmCham EU is affiliated with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (U.S. Chamber). 

The AmChams in Europe website states, “AmChams are […] all accredited by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as representatives of U.S business in their respective country.”82Members – Amchams in Europe,” AmChams in Europe. Archived December 16, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.vn/XISV4 

AmCham EU has held meetings and co-hosted events with the U.S. Chamber, and repeatedly hosted speakers from the U.S. Chamber. The two groups have co-published a report “Underlining the Resilience of the Transatlantic Economy.”83AmCham EU participates in AmChams in Europe delegation visit to Washington, DC and Raleigh, North Carolina,” AmCham EU, May 19, 2022. Archived December 16, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/LNA3X 842021 Annual Report,” AmCham EU. Archived December 16, 2022. Archive .pdf on file at DeSmog. 85EU-US trade relations under the new Biden Administration: What can the Portuguese Presidency do?,” AmCham EU, March 1, 2021. Archived December 16, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/QxVMl 86U.S. Chamber, AmCham EU Release Report Underlining the Resilience of the Transatlantic Economy,” US Chamber, March 24, 2021. Archived December 16, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/vPbl6 

However, neither AmCham EU nor the U.S. Chamber publicly explain the nature of their affiliation. Chamber Watch, Public Citizen’s website dedicated to monitoring the behavior of the U.S. Chamber, describes the global network of AmChams as: “An international network of accredited business groups, currently numbering more than 115 that work to push the Chamber’s agenda abroad.”87Chamber Map,” Chamber Watch. Archived December 16, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.vn/3DyAh  

The U.S. Chamber does not make its membership publicly available.

In 2015, Gretchen Goldman, lead analyst for the Center for Science and Democracy, wrote:88Gretchen Goldman. “Who Stands with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Climate Change? New Data Says Few (Still),” Union of Concerned Scientists (Blog), January 20, 2015. Archived February 26, 2016. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/VEsCN  

“With this lack of transparency we have very little information about who supports the Chamber’s anti-science position on climate change and who funds its efforts to block policies that would address it. As a result, the Chamber can use its vast resources to influence public policy without any accountability for those behind it.” 

The U.S. Chamber’s board of directors includes the following representatives from fossil fuel and chemical companies:89U.S. Chamber Board of Directors,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Archived December 16, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/DFJDt 

  • Denise Dignam, President, Advanced Performance Materials – The Chemours Company
  • Karen Knutson, Vice President and General Manager, Government Affairs – Chevron
  • Andrew D. Lundquist, Senior Vice President, Government Affairs – ConocoPhillips
  • Gretchen Watkins, President and U.S. Country Chair – Shell USA, Inc.
  • Amy Wilson, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary – Dow, Inc.

Gretchen Watkins, President and U.S. Country Chair for Shell USA, Inc. is on its Executive Committee, and Amy Wilson, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for Dow, Inc. is amongst its Regional Vice Chairs.90Executive Committee,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Archived December 16, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/uqgkR 91Regional Vice Chairs,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Archived December 16, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/sWosb 

Raymond F. Kerins Jr., Senior Vice President and Head of Communications & Government Relations for agrochemical company Bayer, also previously sat on its Board of Directors.92Board of Directors,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Archived February 26, 2016. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/MqKNh 

U.S. Chamber President and CEO Suzanne Clark also sits on the board of AGCO, a company that specializes in agricultural technologies, including technologies for “precision agriculture.”93Suzanne P. Clark,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Archived December 16, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/bt6RE 94Board of Directors,” AGCO. Archived December 16, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/PpYmm 

Marjorie A. Chorlins, the U.S. Chamber senior vice president for European affairs, previously “represented the U.S. government in multilateral trade negotiations.”95Marjorie Chorlins | U.S. Chamber of Commerce,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Archived June 26, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.vn/x7vE5 

The U.S. Chamber does not disclose its funding. 

In 2017, Public Citizen investigated “who funds the notoriously opaque” U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Of the funders Public Citizen identified in its report, the largest was Dow Chemicals (US$1,814,250 in 2016) and the third largest was Chevron (US$1,000,000 in 2016). Two other energy companies, Southern Company and American Electric Power, were in the top five. Agrochemical companies DuPont, Monsanto, and CF Industries were also on the list, alongside multiple other fossil fuel companies and chemical companies.96The Chamber of Secrets: An Investigation into Who Funds the Notoriously Opaque U.S. Chamber of Commerce,” Public Citizen, September 13, 2017. Archived December 16, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

According to the transparency nonprofit OpenSecrets, the U.S. Chamber and its subsidiaries have spent $1.7 billion on lobbying between 1998 and 2022, making the U.S. Chamber the top lobbying spender in the U.S. – with a combined budget of $1 billion more than the next biggest spender.97Top Spenders,” Open Secrets. Archived December 16, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/MNw0X 

The U.S. Chamber takes an apparently strong stance on climate change on its website, stating “inaction is simply not an option.” However, the Chamber runs the Institute for 21st Century Energy, now the Global Energy Institute, a group with the stated mission to “unify policymakers, regulators, business leaders, and the American public behind a common sense energy strategy to help keep America secure, prosperous, and clean.98Chamber’s Energy Institute Unveils Comprehensive New Energy Works for US Platform,” Global Energy Institute. Archived October 20, 2021. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/YDXRf 

In June 2020, the U.S. Chamber responded to the EU’s public consultation on the European Commission’s 2030 Climate Target Plan, arguing that “before finalizing 2030 targets, we believe the Commission should pursue a rigorous and thorough analysis of both feasibility and potential impact on the EU’s economy and global competitiveness.”99Response to the European Commission’s 2030 Climate Target Plan Consultation,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce, June 23, 2020. Archived December 16, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/ZjJEa 

The U.S. Chamber also gave a number of recommendations, including continued use of methane (or “natural”) gas to “improve energy security and enhance price competition” as well as to “streamline siting and permitting for LNG [liquified natural gas] import terminals, pipelines and other infrastructure to broaden the number of LNG suppliers.” The Chamber’s recommendations added: “The Commission should combine low carbon gases and renewable electricity as a cost-savings alternative to an all-electric solution.”

The U.S. Chamber also suggested that “the Commission should pursue policies to support innovation which are technology neutral,” meaning that policymakers should not enact policies that favor any given technology, and instead allow market mechanisms to decide.100Response to the European Commission’s 2030 Climate Target Plan Consultation,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce, June 23, 2020. Archived December 16, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/ZjJEa 101Response to the European Commission’s 2030 Climate Target Plan,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce, June 23, 2020. Archived December 16, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.  

In 2021, the U.S. Chamber released a statement on Fit for 55 – the EU’s package of measures to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 percent from 1990 levels by 2030. “The U.S. Chamber and its members are committed to working with the U.S., EU and other international partners to advance durable and effective climate solutions,” the statement read. “The Commission’s Fit for 55 package is an ambitious set of proposals, and we look forward to communicating with officials in detail in the coming weeks.”102U.S. Chamber Committed to Working with EU to Advance Effective Climate Solutions,” U.S Chamber of Commerce, July 14, 2021. Archived August 12, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.vn/XTjR4

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