The Dutch government has announced that it will not support the inclusion of dangerous exemptions in new European legislation which will require oil, gas, mining and logging companies to publish the payments they make to governments around the world.
Speaking after a cabinet meeting on 8 February 2013, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Lilianne Ploumen confirmed that the Dutch government believed granting companies exemptions from reporting was “not desirable”.
“We welcome the position the Dutch government has taken”, said Marinke van Riet, Publish What You Pay (PWYP) International Director. “This legislation is aimed at placing crucial information into the hands of citizens in resource-rich countries to improve accountability, and exemptions in any form would fly in the face of this goal.”
“Oil companies have claimed without any credible evidence that there are foreign laws which prohibit disclosure of the payments they make to governments”, said Janine de Vries at Dutch PWYP member Cordaid. “The stance the Dutch government has taken today in support of transparency is hugely welcome.”
“Including exemptions in the EU rules would only incentivise autocratic regimes to pass secrecy laws in order to keep their citizens in the dark”, de Vries continued.
The upcoming legislation which is being introduced through the European Accounting and Transparency Directives builds upon a landmark provision in US law – section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Act passed in 2010 – which requires all oil, gas, and mining companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges to publish their payments to all countries and for every project. The US rules implementing Dodd-Frank 1504 do not provide for any exemptions from reporting.
In deciding not to support exemptions, Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs Henk Kamp said in a letter to the Dutch Parliament that exemptions were “not desirable” since the Dutch government wished to create “a level playing field for international transparency requirements”.
Anglo-Dutch oil giant Royal Dutch Shell and other oil companies have been fighting these laws both in the United States and European Union. This week both George Soros and former Shell executive Alan Detheridge criticized the stance of the oil industry.
“In the face of intense pressure from oil companies, we commend the Dutch government for taking a position which will ensure citizens around the world are better able to benefit from the billions of euros which their governments receive from the extractive sector”, said Ms Van Riet.
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