The Via Pontica Foundation Joins International Coalition in Open Letter to the Prime Minister of Belgium and the President of the European Commission

In an act of solidarity and commitment to environmental protection and sustainable development, the Via Pontica Foundation joined an impressive coalition of non-governmental organizations to express its deep outrage at the recent event organized by the Belgian Presidency of the EU in collaboration with the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC) and its Belgian member Essenscia. The event, held at the BASF chemical plant in Antwerp, brought together high-level political leaders and representatives of the chemical and other energy-intensive industrial sectors in a closed meeting, which raised serious concerns among environmental defenders.

The open letter, addressed to the Prime Minister of Belgium Alexander de Croo and the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, expresses outrage that by participating in this event, the high-level leaders have failed to recognize the culpability of corporate interests contributing to the climate crisis, toxic pollution, and the biodiversity crisis. These crises pose a threat to the lives of communities around the world.

The letter emphasizes that over the past five years, chemical corporations and their lobbying groups have waged an intensive campaign in Brussels and across Europe to undermine the ambitious regulations promised by the von der Leyen Commission. This includes strategies such as the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability and the Farm to Fork Strategy, which aim to limit hazardous chemicals in consumer and agricultural products in the EU.

The Via Pontica Foundation, as an active participant in environmental protection and sustainable development, expresses its concern about this event and supports the call to stop providing privileged access to industries known for their harmful products and practices. The organization insists on the ambitious implementation of key sustainability strategies.

Through this participation, the Via Pontica Foundation continues its mission to restore sustainable ecosystems and take active steps to restore the connection between people and nature.

Here is the full text of the letter:


To the attention of Prime Minister Alexander de Croo
cc European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen

Dear Prime Minister De Croo,

20 February 2024

We are appalled that today the Belgian Presidency of the EU is organising, alongside the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC) and its Belgian industry member Essenscia, a closed event for chemical and other intensive industrial energy users and high-level political leaders at BASF’s chemicals plant in Antwerp.

By overseeing and participating in this event you have failed to recognise the culpability of the corporate interests attending in contributing to the climate, toxic pollution, and biodiversity crises which pose a tremendous risk to planetary boundaries and a death threat to communities around the world. These crises are a result of decades of irresponsible corporate decision-making that has insisted on producing and using hazardous substances and burning fossil fuels for profit.

In the past five years, BASF, other chemical corporations and intensive energy users, and their lobby groups, have waged a huge lobby campaign in Brussels and across Europe to undermine and destroy ambitious regulations promised by the von der Leyen Commission. The goals of the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability and the Farm to Fork strategy to restrict hazardous chemicals in consumer and agricultural uses in the EU, as well as to prevent the export of banned substances, including chemicals and pesticides, have faded away. Meanwhile industry has also secured massive support for new fossil fuel infrastructure and for false solutions to the climate crisis such as hydrogen, carbon capture, and offsets.

Industry has a long history of crying wolf and exaggerating the consequences of progressive green policies. And, in a big year for elections in Belgium and across the EU, too many politicians are falling for the rhetoric that there should be a “pause” in new environmental rules and that net zero is somehow as good as real zero. Politicians have a responsibility to show genuine leadership rather than following the latest greed-driven, populist, scaremongering.

But rather than spearheading an approach to stand up to these lobbies and reverse these trends, instead today you are rewarding big polluting industries with privileged access to high-level decision-makers and the expectation of even more political and policy support.

This event is an insult to communities in Flanders, not least those living with PFAS ‘forever chemicals’ pollution from the 3M plant in Antwerp; in Wallonia; and across the rest of the EU and beyond; who are currently confronting the reality of the industry-generated toxic pollution crisis in terms of their personal health and that of their local biodiversity, air, water, and soils.

This event with its emphasis on industry’s “business case” and even a “European Industrial Deal” is entirely wrong-headed, and sits at odds with your Presidency’s promise of “decisive and holistic action” to tackle the climate, biodiversity, and pollution crises. It puts big business in the driving seat to promote its agenda of avoiding legislation, demanding public subsidy, and pushing a corporate greenwashed, deeply-flawed ‘net zero’ approach.

This event, and the political agenda it represents, should not be going ahead.

  • We urge you and all other political leaders attending to stop providing such privileged access to industries that are known for their harmful products and practices, as well as for their lobbying against action for healthier communities, resilient ecosystems, and genuine carbon reduction.
  • We implore you to prioritise the protection of citizens and environments suffering from chemical, pesticide, and fossil fuel pollution, and to fight for an ambitious implementation of the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability, the Farm to Fork strategy, and action to ensure that big polluters can no longer evade responsibility for the climate crisis.Signed byARCHE NOAH
    Arnika – Toxics and Waste Programme
    Association For Promotion Sustainable Development , Association of Ethical Shareholders Germany
    Aurelia Stiftung
    Bond Beter Leefmilieu
    Break Free From Plastic Europe
    Broederlijk Delen
    Child Rights International Network (CRIN)
    Climate Express
    Corporate Europe Observatory
    Deutsche Umwelthilfe e.V.
    Eco Hvar
    Ecologistas en Acción
    Ecology without borders foundation
    EEB European Environmental Bureau
    Entraide et Fraternité
    EnvMed Network – Europan Network for Environmental Medicine Euro Coop
    Exit Plastik Alliance
    Foodwatch International
    Foundation for the protection of Biodiversity in Bulgaria
    Friends of the Earth Europe
    Générations Futures
    GLOBAL 2000 Austria

Greenpeace Belgique Grondrecht

Grootouders voor het Klimaat Hamraah Foundation

Health & Environment Alliance (HEAL)
Health and Environment Justice Support (HEJSupport) Hogar sin Tóxicos
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy Europe
Isde, International Society of Doctors for Environment Klimaatcoalitie Coalition Climat
La Grande Puissance de Dieu
Les Amis de la Terre – Belgique
Muchi Children’s Home
Nature & Progrès
Navdanya International
Observatoire du principe pollueur-payeur
Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Europe
Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Germany
Pesticide Action Network in Mexico (RAPAM)
Pesticide Action Network Netherlands
Plastic Change
Plastic Soup Foundation
Plough Back The Fruits
Polish Zero Waste Association
Race for Water
Recycling Netwerk Benelux
Société Scientifique de Médecine Générale (SSMG)
SOS Faim
Stichting Mission Lanka
The Good Lobby
TROCA – Plataforma por um Comércio Internacional Justo Via Pontica Foundation
WeMove Europe
Women Engage for a Common Future – WECF
Women on Farms Project, South Africa
ZERO – Association for the Sustainability of the Earth System 11 march movement

Please send any replies to Vicky Cann, Corporate Europe Observatory

#industrialdeal, #AntwerpDeclaration, #BigToxics, #toxicfreepolitics

Open letter to the Belgian premier De Croo