Transparency International (TI) calls for a total review of the EU voluntary register of lobbyists, following the very disappointing results of the current register launched in June 2008.
TI urges the inter-institutional working group between the Commission and Parliament to agree on a fully-fledged mandatory register. To be effective - i.e. to provide transparency on who is lobbying whom, with which financial means and for what purpose - an EU lobbyist register should satisfy the following criteria:
- Mandatory and common registration of lobbyists to the Commission, Parliament and Council;
- A definition of ‘interest representative’ should include public affairs consultancies, corporate lobbyists, law firms, NGOs and think tanks;
- Naming of individual lobbyists with information where the person has worked before;
- Disclosure of financial data in precise ranges of all lobbyists;
- Disclosure of financial details on income from clients;
- Information displayed in a comparable way;
- Creation of a strict, standardised and effective reporting and sanctioning mechanism;
- A strong, detailed and properly enforced code of conduct;
- Clear guidelines on how to register and how to calculate lobby expenses.
“The first eight months of the EU lobbyist register shows that a voluntary register does not bring the transparency needed. Many lobbyists continue to ignore the register and the data that is provided is in most cases neither helpful nor comparable. The Commission and Parliament should use this lesson to focus on establishing a common mandatory register that will include the Council,” said Jana Mittermaier, Head of the TI Brussels Office.
The working group between the Commission and Parliament will meet on 18 February to discuss the way forward towards the creation of a common register. The Parliament has already called for a robust and mandatory lobbyist register in April 2008, including individual names and financial data of lobbyists.
Fewer than 1000 lobbyist entities have registered since the launch of the voluntary Commission register in June. Many big lobby companies and all major law firms have completely ignored the register and data, when provided, is often irrelevant.
“Making lobbyists sign-up to a register is only part of real lobbying transparency. Of equal importance is guaranteeing the quality, reliability and comparability of the data and sanctioning those who do not sign up or have exerted undue influence,” said Miklos Marschall, TI’s Director for Europe and Central Asia.
TI has national chapters in almost every EU member, accession candidate and potential candidate state.
Transparency International is the global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption
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