ALTER-EU's 6th newsletter
Welcome to ALTER-EU's 6th newsletter. It is the first newsletter since the ALTER-EU annual assembly that took place in October and was attended by many of our members. For those unable to make it, we have produced a video that gives a good overview of these two days of informed discussion and action.
As this video gives a clear overview of not only the assembly, but also ALTER-EU as a campaigning platform, it would be great if you could share this with your members or on social media. The short link is: http://vimeo.com/32517184.
As you can see, the assembly had a wide range of guest speakers from grassroots movements. If they made one thing clear, it is that good usage of social media is indispensable nowadays. This is why we have given this extra attenton over the last couple of months, and we now have a good flow of news and action alerts on both twitter (follow @altereu) and facebook (via our facebook group and our facebook fanpage). In order to get this noticed by more people, please like our facebook fanpage!
Last month, ALTER-EU launched a new campaign to block the revolving door. Many EU officials go through the 'revolving door' meaning that they leave their EU job and soon start working for industry or lobby firms, often in the same policy area. Other times, lobbyists go through the revolving door and start to work for the EU institutions. This type of 'job hopping' can create conflicts of interest, and is potentially harmful for public policy-making. If you haven't already read about this exciting new campaign, do check out the new website pages. We'll be sending further updates about this campaign in the new year.
The publication of a detailed report as part of the campaign launch ensured we received good press coverage and thanks very much to all the organisations that posted the story or the cartoon on their website or in their newsletter. If you can still do this, please get in touch with us as it is not too late! We are particularly keen to work with member groups from Sweden, Denmark and the UK who can share this campaign information and reach out to interested journalists. Please get in touch if you can help.
Last week, 'Corporate Europe Observatory' - a steering committee member of ALTER-EU - started a new online initiative called 'RevolvingDoorWatch'. This website features new revolving door cases and will be regularly updated, thereby increasing the pressure on the EU institutions to tackle the revolving door problem. Please do check out this campaign tool and consider whether you can place a RevolvingDoorWatch button on your website so that more people will know about it. Meanwhile, you can email email@example.com if you have information about new revolving door cases.
In response both Commissioner Šefčovič - responsible for the Staff Regulations - and one of his spokespeople said that the current rules are sufficient to rule out conflicts of interest. This argument is difficult to uphold when analysing ALTER-EU's research that includes scores of cases where the rules were ignored by former Commission staffers, and not applied by the institution itself.
New ALTER-EU member
We asked the International EMF Alliance (IEMFA, a world-wide operating coalition of over 60 national NGOs) to introduce themselves to other ALTER-EU members; here’s how they answered.
The International EMF Alliance (IEMFA) is a coalition of over 60 national NGOs from five continents working for a healthier environment when it comes to non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation or fields (EMF). Like other organisations advocating for a public health perspective and the application of the Precautionary Principle we are hurting a number of powerful industrial lobby groups and their PR/law firms. This experience has made us conclude that the stakeholders having economic interests in a non-regulated implementation of wireless techniques have learned from earlier “mistakes” (tobacco, asbestos). There is strong evidence that they have updated and improved yesterday’s tools and techniques in order to dominate the public view on EMF and health in a more indirect and discrete way based on the famous “third-party strategy” and the propagation of a set of “key affirmations” not unlike slogans and other commercial messages. The measures include among others; massive investments in “independent” research on EMF health risks, an important body of loyal “independent” scientists, “educational” and information programs towards national and international health authorities, decision-makers and media representatives (based on the “independent” third-party experts’ findings and the “key affirmations”), as well as the creation of doubt or harassment against independent scientists and citizens’ testimonies of health effects. This strategy is so far very successful: most official expert panels, at EU level and elsewhere, are today dominated by industry loyal scientists downplaying all scientific and empirical evidence of health risks. Industry lobby groups (GSMA, MMF etc), but also health authorities and decision-makers build their recommendations on the conclusion of these experts. Most truly independent scientists and all balanced expert panels conclude though there is a health risk. One example is IARC’s recent classification of radio frequency EMF as “possibly carcinogen” which is currently subject to an intense counter-attack.
Corporate interest groups and experts are thus exerting a far-reaching influence on international and national regulations of the increasing and extended electropollution, impeding awareness of the health risks and the implementation of urgent precautionary measures. This is why IEMFA supports ALTER-EU’s work and goals and has decided to join the coalition which has so far done a fabulous work for lobbying transparency and ethics regulation according to our observations.
We will be happy to share our experience with other members of the ALTER-EU coalition: monitoring of “new generation” lobbying tools and other relevant issues. Hopefully we will also be able to exchange around our success stories and make a difference by participating in common campaigns and other actions.
There are many urgent needs in the EMF area that are presently postponed by efficient lobbying and science-bending efforts:
- DEMOCRACY: Impartial and balanced expert groups at all levels with members representing all scientific judgments and the viewpoints of citizens’, medical doctors and NGOs. There is an urgent need to break the monopoly of the outdated, limited and industry-friendly “ICNIRP interpretation”. This is a fundamental basic step towards rational decision-making.
- REGULATION: Public health guided regulations of the implementation of base stations (masts), and wireless networks (WIFI etc), respecting the ALARA principle. New guidelines on EMF exposure, also taking into consideration possible long term effects like cancer, and the risk of chronic injury/functional impairment (electrosensitivity).
- PRECAUTION: Information campaigns where the public and especially children and other vulnerable groups can learn about the risks and how to lower their exposition of EMF.
- PROTECTION: Create the prerequisites to allow recognition, assistance and accessibility for persons suffering from EMF-related injuries and functional impairment. (Electrosensitivity)
The need for actions in the EMF-field is recognized by MEPs (the Ries-resolution), the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (Resolution 1815), and the European Environment Agency (EEA statement).