In recent years, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has increased its efforts to promote its interests in the European Union (EU) through lobbying. According to a report published by Corporate Europe Observatory, and Droit au Droit’s Undue Influence, the UAE has hired dozens of lobbyists and spent millions of euros to influence EU policies in its favor. These reports highlight the growing influence of the UAE in the EU and the need for greater transparency in lobbying activities.
A recent report has shed light on the extent of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) lobbying in the European Union (EU), revealing that it is deeply entrenched and extensive. It highlights the significant influence that the UAE exerts on EU decision-making processes, particularly concerning issues such as human rights, foreign policy, and economic interests.
Corporate Europe Observatory also published the report which identifies several areas where the UAE has been actively lobbying the EU. These include trade, energy, human rights, and foreign policy. The UAE has been promoting its interests in these areas by funding think tanks, organizing events, and building networks with EU policymakers and officials.
The report identifies a range of tactics employed by UAE lobbyists to sway EU policymakers, including establishing close relationships with European politicians, think tanks, and media outlets. This is achieved through the funding of research projects, the sponsoring of conferences and events, and the provision of free trips to the UAE for policymakers and their staff. In 2017 it launched a new “soft power strategy” to punch above its weight on the global stage. In addition, the reports point to the significant financial resources at the disposal of UAE lobbyists, which allow them to hire top-tier PR firms and consultants to advance their interests.
One of the key areas of concern highlighted by the report is the UAE’s track record on human rights. The UAE has been criticized by numerous human rights organizations for its treatment of migrant workers, its restrictions on free speech and assembly, and its use of torture and other forms of ill-treatment. Despite these concerns, the report notes that the UAE has been successful in influencing EU policy in its favor, with many EU member states actively seeking to strengthen ties with the UAE.
Another area of significant UAE influence identified by the report is foreign policy. The UAE has been actively involved in a number of regional conflicts, including the ongoing conflict in Yemen, and has sought to position itself as a key player in the region. The report suggests that the UAE has been successful in influencing EU policy in relation to these conflicts, with the EU often adopting positions that are supportive of the UAE’s interests.
The report also highlights the extent of the UAE’s economic influence in the EU. The UAE is a significant investor in Europe, with investments focused on a range of sectors including real estate, infrastructure, and energy. The report suggests that the UAE has been successful in leveraging these economic ties to advance its political interests in the EU, with the UAE frequently using its economic clout to lobby for policies that benefit its interests.
The UAE is a major oil producer and exporter, and it has been pushing for greater access to EU energy markets. The UAE has been promoting its investments in renewable energy and lobbying for the inclusion of its companies in EU energy projects. The UAE has also been lobbying against the EU’s plans to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and increase its use of renewable energy
The UAE has been pushing for the removal of tariffs on its exports to the EU and the inclusion of its services in the EU’s free trade agreements. The UAE is the EU’s seventh-largest trading partner outside Europe, and its exports to the EU have increased significantly in recent years. The UAE has also been lobbying for the inclusion of investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) clauses in trade agreements with the EU. These clauses allow investors to sue governments for damages if their investments are harmed by government policies.
Overall, the reports paint a worrying picture of the extent of UAE lobbying in the EU, highlighting the significant influence that the UAE exerts on EU decision-making processes. The reports conclude by calling for greater transparency and accountability in relation to UAE lobbying activities in the EU, and for policymakers to be more aware of the risks posed by this kind of influence.
The report recommends that the EU introduce a mandatory lobbying register, which would require lobbyists to disclose their clients, funding sources, and lobbying activities. The report also recommends that the EU limit the access of lobbyists to EU policymakers and officials and ensure that policymaking is based on public interest rather than the interests of certain groups or individuals.
In response to the report, the UAE embassy in Brussels issued a statement denying that it engages in any kind of improper lobbying activities. The embassy argued that its engagement with EU policymakers is focused on promoting dialogue and cooperation between the UAE and the EU, and that it fully respects the EU’s democratic process.
However, the findings of the reports are likely to fuel ongoing concerns about the influence of foreign governments on EU decision-making processes and to prompt calls for greater regulation and oversight of lobbying activities in the EU. As the report notes, the UAE is not alone in its efforts to exert influence in the EU, and other foreign governments are likely to be watching closely to see how the EU responds to this challenge.
In conclusion, the UAE’s lobbying activities in the EU are deeply entrenched, and they raise concerns about the transparency and accountability of EU policymaking. The UAE has been promoting its interests in trade, energy, human rights, and foreign policy by hiring lobbyists, funding think tanks, and building networks with EU policymakers and officials. The EU needs to introduce greater transparency and accountability in lobbying activities and ensure that policymaking is based on public interest rather than the interests of certain groups or individuals.