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Mandatory lobby register on the cards

Posted by Nick Prag at 03 March 2016, 22:10 CET |
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About time, some would say, as the European Commission this week launched a public consultation on making the EU lobby transparency regime mandatory.

The EU Transparency Register is an inter-institutional tool set up by the Commission and the European Parliament to monitor the activities of the myriad lobbying firms that congregate around Brussels. There are currently more than 9,000 bodies signed up to it (as at 1 March), which is up from 7,020 in October 2014.

The 12-week consultation asks for input on the current regime for registration of interest representatives – the people who seek to influence the work of the EU institutions - and on its development into a mandatory lobby register which covers the European Parliament and EU Council as well as the Commission.

Things have improved. Since the start of the Juncker Commission, Commissioners do not, as a rule, meet organisations which are not listed in the Register. And all meetings between interest representatives and Commissioners, their Cabinets, and Commission Director-Generals are supposed to be published within two weeks of taking place.

With information being published on more than 6,000 meetings, the Commission says that entry on the Register has in effect already become a mandatory requirement for anybody who wants to meet the most senior EU decision-makers and officials.

However, ALTER-EU, the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation, says that half of all entries in the register are incomplete or inaccurate. It believes a de facto mandatory register is not enough, and that a legally-binding register ”is the only way to ensure that citizens can properly see who is influencing EU decision-making, on which issues, on whose behalf, and with what budgets."

A commitment to transparency has been a theme of the Juncker Commission from the outset. Now is the time to turn it into reality.

The consultation will close on Tuesday 31 May.

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Nick Prag

Nick Prag

Nick Prag is founder and managing editor of Prior to EUbusiness, he was senior editor at Europe Online SA in Luxembourg, where he played a major part in the launch of Europe Online International.