While such conflicts are clearly unacceptable for businesses, unions, and other lobbies, they are a matter of course for non-governmental organisations (NGOs). European governments provide hundreds of millions of euros to NGOs, with little oversight. German CDU lawmaker Markus Pieper (EPP) recently took up this issue, commissioning a study on democratic accountability and budgetary control of EU-funded NGOs and subsequently drafting a report calling for stricter funding regulations.
In other words, an EU-funded network lobbies the EU for more money and preferred policies, and its members receive major amounts in a lucrative cycle.
The dissonance, perhaps, is because NGOs are not considered parties that are liable to conflicts of interest, and therefore the EU’s code of conduct does not apply to them. As argued by MEP Staes, 95% of NGOs work for the common good and are not involved in lobbying. According to such logic, NGOs are unequivocally good for everyone, and there is no reason to scrutinise their claims or hold them accountable – even when they are entrusted with taxpayer money. Unfortunately, this is not the case as many NGOs abuse this optimistic misconception and use it for their own self-interested financial and political gain.
In fact, NGOs are currently given astounding leeway in comparison to other interest groups, all while being funded excessively without appropriate accountability. Addressing this anomaly does not single out NGOs. But systematically ignoring it does.