The European Union is funding some of the most powerful environmental NGOs in Brussels – while in turn, they lobby the EU for more money and influence.
Environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have enormous influence in the European Union. However, some of the most vocal green groups are actually funded directly by the EU to lobby it. The EU funds many NGOs operating in Brussels whose main purpose is to influence EU policy-making and implementation. This report analyses one programme of funding, in which DG Environment (the division of the European Commission responsible for environmental affairs) distributed over €66 million to environmental NGOs between 1998-2009.
Specifically, we examine funds allocated to the Green 10 – a coalition of ten NGOs pushing for an “environmental” agenda in EU policy-making.
* Nine out of the Green 10 receive funds from the Commission.
* Eight members receive one-third or more of their income from the Commission, and five of those rely on the Commission for more than half their funding.
Under EU rules, an NGO can receive up to 70% of its income from the EU, and thus is obliged to find only 30% of its income from alternative sources.
From 1998 to 2009, there was a substantial increase in funds given by the Commission to environmental groups: from €2,337,924 (1998) to €8,749,940 (2009) – an average increase of 13% every year.
The EU’s funding of Green 10 members has also increased during this time period.
* Birdlife Europe funding increased by 900%
* Friends of the Earth Europe funding increased by 325%
* WWF European Policy Office funding increased by 270%.
The majority of Green 10 members now receive considerably more money from the Commission than in previous years. As a result, many have struggled to reduce their dependency on EU funds – in fact, three members depend more on EU funds today than in 2005.