* Industry has opposed project-by-project reporting
* European Parliament favours low threshold of 80,000 euros
* Tough U.S. line increased pressure on EU to act
By Barbara Lewis
BRUSSELS, Sept 18 European Union legislators
have voted for a draft anti-corruption law, echoing rigorous
U.S. rules to make oil, gas and mining firms declare payments
they make in resource-rich nations.
Pressure has mounted on the EU to take a tough line after
the U.S. regulator in August set demanding rules for U.S.-listed
Tuesday's series of votes in the European Parliament backed
detailed reporting to regulatory authorities starting from a
minimum threshold of 80,000 euros ($105,100), almost identical
to the $100,000 U.S. requirement and far lower than the
million-dollar level some resource firms had said was practical.
In contrast to the U.S. rules, the European Union is also
proposing to include the forestry industry and banking,
construction and telecommunication sectors on a less detailed
level than for extractive industries.
Non-governmental organisations were swift to welcome
Tuesday's decisions, although the draft rules will only become
law following further negotiations and approval by EU member
"Today's vote brings us one step closer to helping citizens
harness the often vast natural resource wealth of their
countries to finance the fight against extreme poverty, disease
and hunger, and the transformation of their economies to build
opportunity for all," said Eloise Todd, Brussels director of
campaign group ONE.
ONE campaigns against poverty, especially in Africa, where
resource wealth is concentrated in the hands of a rich elite,
meaning for millions the resources are a curse rather than a
Another campaign group, Transparency International, said
Tuesday's votes should help to ensure benefits of payments, such
as royalties, signature and production bonuses or licence fees
"Wealth in some of the poorest countries should no longer
stay in the hands of corrupt elites, politicians and industry
insiders," said Jana Mittermaier, director of the Transparency
International EU office.
MAJORS SAY THEY SUPPORT TRANSPARENCY
Oil majors and other resource firms have said they believe
in transparency and have already signed up to international
guidelines enshrined in the Extractive Industries Transparency
But some have complained that the European Parliament's
insistence on project-by-project reporting, as opposed to
reporting at government level, is unnecessary and impractical,
and have also taken issue with the payment threshold.
Arlene McCarthy, a British Labour member of the European
Parliament who led the discussions in the assembly, said it had
stood firm against industry lobbying.
"We have not given in to the pressure of industry and
government lobbying for a weak transparency regime. We are
insisting on project-by-project reporting with a low threshold,"
she said in a statement.
"Project-level disclosure is the only way in which local
communities in resource-rich countries are able to expose
corruption and hold their governments accountable for using
revenues towards development."
Others who have lent their voice to the call for a strong
stance include Kofi Annan, the former U.N. secretary general who
last week cited the example of labour unrest sweeping South
Africa's platinum belt as an added reason to crack down on
"The recent violence at the Marikana mine in South Africa
shows what happens when trust is in short supply at the local
level," he wrote in an opinion piece published in the New York