Big business, think tanks and lobbying all belong to the same cobweb of relations and business networks. In a long read The Correspondent, Bas van Beek, Jilles Mast, and Sophia Beunder of the Platform for Authentic Journalism, as well as correspondent Dimitri Tokmetzis who assisted with the data research, collaborate to analyse the ties of big business with think tanks, and show how these ties make think tanks lobbying vehicles.
Think tanks present themselves as independent providers of arguments, facts, and figures in the ideologically charged debate on TTIP, the pending free trade agreement between the U.S. and the EU. But is that really the case?
The analysis shows, for example, that think tanks are not at all independent – in financial terms.
In total, more than three hundred companies sponsor the activities of the seven think tanks.
If we put the names of these businesses next to Corporate Europe Observatory’s list of TTIP lobbyists, then it turns out that 115 of these businesses have actively lobbied the European Commission to push for TTIP and influence the negotiation process by presenting their wish list for the trade agreement.
The bias of think tanks mainly lies within the scope of what they research and what they ignore in their research. The question of whether or not TTIP is even beneficial for the overall economy, or for society at large is ignored. The question of who will benefit and who will be disadvantaged because of TTIP is not important. Think tanks’ research focuses mainly on how certain sectors will benefit, ignoring the environmental, social, and public health consequences of the agreement.
That is also the reason why big business is interested in think tanks. They are helped by seemingly scientific “prove” of the growth that TTIP will bring to their sectors.