London Daily

Focus on the big picture.

EU play puts ‘diabolical’ food industry lobbyists center stage

EU play puts ‘diabolical’ food industry lobbyists center stage

Europe Connexion is a cautionary tale of a corporate career in the Brussels bubble.

Corporate lobbying is literally poisoning the EU, says a forceful play that has just finished a two-week run in Brussels.

Europe Connexion is a melodramatic diatribe against lobbyists by Alexandra Badea, a francophone Romanian playwright who paints the food and farming industry as a supreme force of evil whose greedy henchmen in Brussels will stop at nothing to bend EU legislation to their benefit.

But it needn't just be about food — the play portrays Brussels as a cesspit of power-mad lobbyists and consultancies splashing millions to influence EU lawmakers to the detriment of ordinary Europeans and the planet.

Dark and angry, the piece tells the story of a ruthless assistant to an MEP who turns lobbyist for the pesticide industry, all for the sake of salary and status. Before long he’s in too deep, hallucinating about swarms of bees that he’s killed and the people he’s destroyed on his way to the top. It all ends in a full-blown mental health tailspin-cum-ethical crisis that he cannot resolve.

The narrative of cynical corporate lobbying that will be familiar to many Brussels aficionados — it's one that is often pushed by left-leaning NGOs and green groups which see any form of advocacy by industries who could stand to lose out from reforms as inherently unfair. Yet the very existence of the European Green Deal is proof the corporates don’t always have the upper hand – until it's entirely gutted of change-making powers by their lobbying influence, that is.

The play, which ran until November 26 at the downtown Théâtre des Martyrs, is strongest when it dissects the supposedly nefarious strategies lobbyists employ: schmoozing contacts over lunch, mastering the euphemistic lingo of the bubble, creating fake supportive NGOs — known as astro-turfing — or destroying an eminent professor’s credibility.

It paints the lobbyist — played by two actors, one male called Pierange Buondelmonte and one female called Aline Mahaux — as a maestro of these dark arts. In absurdist interludes the actors run on the spot to suggest how robotic and inhuman lobbying is, and swap business cards with their mouths à la American Psycho.

Thinly drawn

Europe Connexion is certainly timely and even prescient — even if it was written in 2015. Lobbying is a perennial issue in Brussels, but it's very much in the spotlight right now as the food and farming industries push back against the EU’s environmental policy agenda. Big Food's argument, that Europe can't afford to underwrite a green revolution in wartime, echoes the food-security mantra that runs through the play.

The play ran until November 26 at the downtown Théâtre des Martyrs

But, even if you believe a shadowy cabal of lobbyists is pulling the strings in Brussels, as a work of theater, it’s a dud. There’s one tone throughout, and no real characters bar the thinly-drawn lobbyist. The play's exaggerated plot ultimately weakens both its dramatic plausibility and political force: A student takes his own life after he’s outed for plagiarism by the lobbyist, whose wife slits her own wrists when he threatens to quit to save his sanity.

In fact, rather than the corporate empire, the chief villain of the piece is the one-dimensional wife who bullies her husband to stay in his hated job to make her “proud.” This retrograde depiction of the hen-pecking, materialistic wife jars with the progressive intent of the rest of the play.

The storyline also shatters on contact with the reality of the EU. Suggesting that the European Parliament is the all-important EU institution where minor acts of corporate pressure are a matter of life and death for Europe is pushing it, to say the least. To the contrary, the Parliament tends to be a more ambitious institution when it comes to banning toxic substances or calling for sweeping environmental and climate reform than other powerful parts of the EU machinery, such as the member countries assembled in the Council of the EU.

Most frustratingly of all, this outcry of Manichean activism didn't bother to engage with the other side's arguments or explore the reasons why so many intelligent human beings — who certainly could be doing other things — pursue a career in lobbying. Haven't some of them drunk the Kool-Aid and genuinely believe they're providing a vital service? Knocking down the lobbyist's scaremongering food security narrative would have made the play's arguments even stronger.

As an act of advocacy for its own cause, the play left me cold. Perhaps, instead of going to the theater, I needed to be taken out for an expensive lunch ...


Related Articles

London Daily
Homeless Man Turns in Wallet with 2,000 Euros at Amsterdam Station
Apple Faces EU Charges Over Digital Markets Act Violation
Macron Warns of Civil War Risk as French Elections Approach
Julian Assange Freed After US Plea Deal
Chaotic Portugal Win Over Turkey at Euro 2024
Global Headlines: Hajj Heatwave Tragedy, Flynn's Family Enterprise, and Rising Geopolitical Tensions
Political Shifts in France, Legal Battles in the UK, and Public Protests in Israel
UK's Richest Family Convicted for Exploiting Servants
Hollande Declares End to Macron’s Political Ascendancy
Hindujas Appeal Swiss Court's Human Trafficking Verdict
Prince William Celebrates Birthday at Taylor Swift Concert
Singapore to Implement Screen Time Regulations for Children
Hello and welcome back. Here we are with your latest news update from around the world.
Hello and welcome back. Here are today's top stories from around the world, you don't want to miss:
UK PM Sunak and the Election Betting Scandal
Climate Activists Target Taylor Swift's Private Jet in UK
United States Bans Kaspersky Antivirus
US to Supply Taiwan with Suicide Drones Amid Rising Tensions with China
Bodyguard of UK Prime Minister Arrested for Alleged Election Betting
Global Displacement Crisis: Record Numbers in 2023
Muslim Community Leader Criticizes Nigel Farage for Undermining Muslims
Melinda Gates Discusses 'Horrible' Divorce from Bill Gates
Child Obesity Surge in England: A Deep Concern
U.S. Sues Adobe Over Hard-to-Cancel Subscriptions
Deadly Heat Wave Claims Dozens of Lives During Hajj Pilgrimage in Mecca
Here are today's top worldwide stories you don’t want to miss:.
World’s Largest Pilot Union Calls to Eliminate Terms Like ‘Cockpit’ and ‘Manpower’ for Equity
Woman Suing UK Intel Services Denies China Spy Allegations
Iran Sentences Nobel Laureate Narges Mohammadi to 1-Year Prison Term for Propaganda
News roundup
Good day, everyone! We've got some gripping stories for you today, spanning from the Middle East to Europe, and even a touch of Hollywood.
Britain’s Refugee Visa Rules Stranding Children in War Zones
UK Elections Predict ‘Electoral Extinction’ for PM Sunak’s Conservative Party
Italian Activist Ilaria Salis Returns Home After Election to European Parliament
Good morning!
England Faces Serbia in Euro Opener with Defensive Concerns
Dermatologist Warns Against Sunbed Usage
Fake Pro-Reform UK Social Accounts and Their Influence on Elections
UK Man Jailed for Non-Consensual Condom Removal
Reform UK Surpasses Conservatives in Historic Poll
US, Britain, Canada Accuse Russia of Interference in Moldova’s Election
Taylor Swift Fans Create Seismic Activity in Edinburgh
Sunak Aide Under Investigation for Election Bet
Labour Leader Starmer Focuses on Wealth Creation for Upcoming UK Elections
G7 to Use Frozen Russian Assets for $50 Billion Ukraine Aid
Anti-Israel Irish MEP Clare Daly LOST her seat in the EU Election
Johnson & Johnson Settles Talc Safety Claims for $700 Million
EU Urged to Welcome Skilled Russians to Weaken Putin
EU Elections Overview: Far-Right Gains and Major Political Shifts
Israel Rescues Four Hostages from Gaza