Good Natural Resource Governance: How Does the EU Deal with the Contestation of Transparency Standards?
Transparency is an organizing principle of the norm of good governance. The EU has adopted a number of policies to promote this norm as a way to address corruption and cronyism in the natural resource sector of many countries. On the global scale, the EU supports the standards of the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative. At home, the EU Accounting and Transparency Directives make it for EU companies mandatory to report payments to domestic and foreign authorities for oil, gas and timber extraction rights. This norm has been contested from different sides. China argues that economic development precedes good governance, instead of the other way around. Natural resource-rich countries see global standards as an intrusion of their sovereignty. The extractive industry in Western countries claims that national policies could disadvantage them by creating an uneven playing field. The chapter argues that these contestations remained predominantly soft and did not affect the legitimacy of the organizing principle too much. None of the contesters openly challenged the principle of transparency, but they rather tried to reduce its importance or to change the standardized procedures that came from it. As the EU did not waiver, these efforts have so far not been very successfully.
Martijn C. Vlaskamp thanks the Beatriu de Pinós postdoctoral program of the Government of Catalonia’s Secretariat for Universities and Research (Ministry of Economy and Knowledge) for funding (Grant number: 2017-BP-152). Research was also supported by the EU’s Horizon 2020 Research & Innovation program (grant number 660245). Martijn thanks Carla Perucca for valuable research assistance and Alanna Irving for proofreading this text. The usual attribution of possible faults applies.
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