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Private sponsorships of Council presidencies ruin EU’s reputation, ombudsman warns

EPA/STEPHANIE LECOCQ
An interior view of the Europa building's atrium in Brussels, Belgium, 09 December 2016. Located at the heart of the European district, the Europa building combines a new part, a lantern-shaped structure designed by the consortium of Samyn and Partners (Belgium), Studio Valle Progettazioni (Italy) and Buro Happold (UK), and a renovated section listed Art Deco complex designed by architect Michel Polak in 1922. The building is scheduled to host it's first European head of governments summit in January 2017.

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The European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly announced it had launched an investigation into the private company sponsorship of the rotating presidencies of the Council of the EU.
The move follows a complaint filed in June by the consumer protection watchdog Foodwatch, that criticises the sponsorship of the Romanian presidency by the Coca-Cola company.
O’Reilly found that the practice damages the EU’s reputation, as the EU Presidency must be “neutral and impartial”. She added that the EU Council should draw up clear rules on corporate sponsorship, and that member states have no qualms with private sector funding.
The complaint expressed concerns over the fact the company supplied the Romanian government with furniture and beverages for its meetings, which were seen as attempts to influence the Union’s food policy. The EU adopted the Food Information Regulation in the same period. Bucarest responded that everything has been done in line with legal criteria.
The fact that citizens would associate a Presidency event sponsored by a company with the EU is “understandable, expected and unavoidable”, O’Reilly said, and added that since the EU Council already provides its members with practical and strategic assistance for the presidency, it should draw up guidelines for dealing with companies.

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