Trading away EU principles in the name of national export interests

(Euractiv,  Brussels, 20 November 2018) MEPs need to follow the lead of the European Ombudsman and force the European Commission to shine light on the opaque role of national Export Credit Agencies. An important milestone in this direction was set by recent decisions of the Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly, which she spoke of at a public hearing of the International Trade Committee of the European Parliament. Following an appeal filed by the ECA-watch network – the Ombudsman detected severe shortcomings in the European Commission’s monitoring of national Export Credit Agencies (ECAs), including “maladministration”, failure to acquire adequate information to formulate its judgement, failure to include environmental and human rights standards when it comes to supporting coal projects and the necessity to keep a written record of its analysis and assessment. ECA’s activities have so far been exempt from human rights-related considerations to the point that arms export for cross-border conflicts could have well fit among their activities. There is a long way to go to ensure that European Export Credit Agencies respond to the much needed demand for accountability and transparency, and the European Parliament has a big role to play. It will have to take a firm stand and make sure the Commission does its homework and complies with the Ombudsman’s recommendations. It is a matter of democratic control and the credibility of the European institutions.