The European Parliament has taken the rare step of banning lobbyists from Amazon, marking the company as the second ever to face such a sanction. This decision was prompted by Amazon’s repeated refusal to engage in discussions regarding the working conditions within its fulfillment centers. The ban specifically targets the 14 Amazon employees who previously held access to the Parliament, effectively barring them without an explicit invitation. This move follows the company’s decision to not attend a critical January hearing focused on its labor practices, as well as a refusal in December to allow MEPs to tour its fulfillment centers due to the busy holiday season.

Romanian MEP Dragoș Pîslaru, chair of the Parliament’s Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, initiated the formal request for the ban, citing Amazon’s lack of serious engagement with the legislative body. Pîslaru’s actions underscore a growing frustration within the EU Parliament over what is perceived as a dismissive attitude by companies outside Europe towards the institution’s authority and its role in representing the interests of EU citizens.

Amazon’s Stance and Parliamentary Reaction

The conflict between the European Parliament and Amazon comes against the backdrop of increasing scrutiny over the e-commerce giant’s labor practices in Europe. Recent penalties against Amazon by the French data protection authority and strikes in Germany and Italy highlight the contentious nature of Amazon’s operational methods. MEP Pîslaru’s efforts to revoke Amazon’s lobbying permits began with a letter sent in February, following the company’s absence at a January hearing. The letter argued that Amazon’s unwillingness to allow investigations into its labor practices while continuing to lobby MEPs was unacceptable.

The ban on Amazon’s lobbyists was confirmed, making Amazon the second entity after Monsanto to have such restrictions imposed by the European Parliament. Despite the ban, Amazon has the opportunity to have its access reinstated if it demonstrates a willingness to cooperate with the EU’s employment committee. However, with the upcoming EU elections, such a development appears unlikely in the near term. Amazon has responded to the ban by expressing disappointment and criticizing the January hearing as biased, while also highlighting its efforts to invite committee members to visit its fulfillment centers.

Implications and Outlook

The ban on Amazon’s lobbyists from the European Parliament sends a strong political message about the institution’s willingness to enforce respect and cooperation from multinational corporations. While some, like researcher Bram Vranken from the Corporate Europe Observatory, advocate for a permanent and broader ban on Big Tech lobbyists, MEP Pîslaru remains open to reinstating access if Amazon changes its approach. This situation highlights the ongoing tension between large tech companies and legislative bodies in Europe, underscoring the importance of dialogue and accountability in addressing labor practices and corporate influence.