Since January 1, 2019, Romania has held the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, a body that I doubt one person in a hundred in Europe could even accurately describe.
The Romanian government has been acting like they “won” this position in some kind of meritorious contest, but the truth is that it was just Romania’s time to finally be chosen.
And since Romania has been a member of the EU for over 10 years now, it was only a matter of time before they got the EU Council Presidency slot.
Considering that the EU Council Presidency only lasts for six months, and there are 28 EU members, it’s pretty clear that Romania was delayed for as long as feasibly possible LOL.
Presidency of the EU Council entails a number of responsibilities, including:
agenda-setting powers: in its 6-month programme, [the country holding the rotating presidency] decides on the order to discuss propositions after they have been submitted by the Commission.
In other words, they help set the agenda for the EU’s legislature. Which is why it was so shocking to read this today:
In an open letter, Foodwatch called on the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, and the Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă, to immediately stop Coca-Cola’s partnership with the Romanian EU-Presidency.
It is completely inappropriate that in a time of major obesity problems and additional disease burdens such as type 2 diabetes, the Presidency of the Council of the EU is sponsored by Coca-Cola.
For some bizarre reason, Romania decided to treat its rotating presidency as a kind of sports match complete with different tiers of corporate sponsors.
One German journalist (Stefan Leifert) noted that there is Coca-Cola crap all over the place in Brussels now that they’re sponsoring Romania.
You can see all the other corporate sponsors proudly listed on Romania’s official page for the 2019 rotating EU Council presidency, including a petroleum company, car companies, and a beer lobbying organization.
All in all, it seems both crass and wrong for Romania to be doing this, but obviously, no one in the government cares.
Since 2000, whichever EU country has held the rotating EU Council Presidency has set up a dedicated website for their term “in office.”
I looked at the websites of Austria, Bulgaria, Estonia, Malta, and Slovakia (the most recent five before Romania) and guess what?
Only Malta had corporate sponsors, which were the Malta Tourism Agency, Air Malta (both, obviously, domestic companies/agencies), BMW, Microsoft, and “Muscats Motors,” whatever that is.
Malta is, of course, both the least-populous country in the EU and the most corrupt. They also sold passports straight up for cash until just recently when the EU made them stop.
What a great example to follow!
What’s even funnier to me is that none of Romania’s major sponsors for the 2019 rotating EU Council Presidency are even Romanian companies.
Coca-Cola in Romania is owned by HBC Coca-Cola, a Greek company. Renault is a French company. Mercedes is a German company. Petrom used to be Romanian, but now it’s an Austrian company.
Even worse, Coca-Cola has actively been protected by the American Embassy in Romania at the expense of European Drinks, a domestic manufacturer of bottled water and soft drinks (and thus a direct competitor to Coca-Cola).
Wikileaks published a secret cable that was written by the American embassy in Romania on June 3, 2005:
We were unpleasantly surprised to learn that the EBRD [European Bank of Reconstruction and Development] in Bucharest is contemplating a loan worth over 200 million dollars to a Romanian company … a competitor in the soft drinks market.
The Embassy considers this particular company to be one of the worst in Romania for its blatant financial and tax manipulation that helped it gain unfair competitive advantage over other companies, including Coca-Cola.
Isn’t that nice of the US Embassy to be looking out for the EBRD’s best interests? Gosh, so generous!
Three weeks later, the US Embassy was still working hard as hell to block this loan:
Embassy officials met with EBRD Romania country director Gacet at her request following earlier meetings between local EBRD representatives and the Embassy regarding Embassy’s strong opposition to the EBRD’s proposed loan.
On the question of Coca-Cola’s stance on the loan, Gacek’s understanding differed from the Embassy’s. She stated that Coca-Cola had not conveyed to the EBRD a strong opposition to or even interest in the loan.
The Embassy continues to believe strongly that a loan approval for [European Drinks] would send entirely the wrong message to the government of Romania.
Wow, that’s a hell of a lot of work on the Embassy’s part to “protect” poor old Romania from its own evil drinks company and instead help out trusty old American Coca-Cola.
Sugar Water Under the Bridge
But hey, none of that matters now, am I right? That was 15 years ago, and Coca-Cola is paying for Romanian diplomats to party in Brussels until July.
And who cares about the obesity crisis in Europe, right? People are fat because they’re lazy, not because Coca-Cola sponsors blatantly corrupt politicians in control of health policy.
Long live the Romanian presidency of the EU Council!