Voting closes today for the European Public Affairs Awards, the self-congratulatory awards organised by Brussels lobby consultancy firms and their lobby groups EPACA and SEAP.
Categories for the EPA Awards include 'Consultancy of the year', 'Rising Star of the Year' and 'Think-tank of the Year. As in previous years, it is astonishing to see that the EPA award organisers have shortlisted several nominees that would fit much better as candidates for the Worst EU Lobbying Awards.
There's no lack of examples of dubious lobbying undertaken by global lobby consultancy giants of Burson-Marsteller, Edelman or APCO, but the example that stands out this year is Aspect Consulting. Aspect is one of three nominees to win the 'Consultancy of the year' award and an Aspect lobbyist is nominated as 'Consultant of the year'. Aspect was nominated for the Worst Lobbying Award a few years ago and despite being an active player in EU lobbying, the company continues to boycott the EU lobby transparency register. Indeed just last week The Guardian exposed Aspect Consulting for its role in assisting biotech lobby group EuropaBio in preparations for a public relations offensive to overcome public opposition to GM food. The plan was to recruit high-profile "ambassadors" to lobby EU decision-makers on GM policy. Leaked documents show Aspect Consulting claiming to have "had interest" from Sir Bob Geldof; the chancellor of Oxford University and BBC Trust chairman, Lord Patten; former Irish EU commissioner and attorney general David Byrne, "potentially" the involvement of former UN secretary general Kofi Annan and writer and campaigner Mark Lynas. All the celebrities mentioned have since denied showing interest. UK MP Caroline Lucas described the lobbying efforts as “insidious behind-the-scenes manoeuvring”.
The winners of the European Public Affairs Awards will be announced on November 9th at an event in Brussels.