Parliament inaction on lobby transparency could sink register reform
The European Parliament must do more to improve lobby transparency, 100 civil society organisations urged in an open letter published today. MEPs were warned that the European Commission's current proposal for a revised EU Transparency Register would allow for even less scrutiny than the existing one, and that to champion greater transparency across all EU institutions, they must start with their own house ﬁrst. A few weeks before Commission, Parliament and Council are expected to start negotiating a revision of the joint EU Transparency Register, the Alliance for Lobby Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU), Civil Society Europe and Transparency International EU brought together a broad civil society coalition to make key demands that will ensure meaningful reform. To guarantee a revision that delivers greater lobby transparency, rather than a weakened register, the signatories urge MEPs to champion the following points during the negotiations:
- a strong commitment by MEPs to only meet registered lobbyists
- a ﬁnancial commitment to help the register secretariat ensure data quality
- retaining the existing deﬁnition of lobbying, which includes direct and indirect lobbying (i.e. lobby consultancies)
- a commitment to a legally-binding lobby register in the long term
The Alliance for Lobby Transparency and Ethics Regulation’s (ALTER-EU) campaigner Margarida Silva commented: “For years to come, the upcoming negotiations will be the only real opportunity to boost lobby transparency in the EU institutions. Parliamentarians should lead this process and improve transparency in their own house to up the pressure on Commission and Council to tighten rules as well. “Keeping the current deﬁnition of lobbying is a vital part of that. The Commission proposal only covers direct lobbying and ignores how much indirect lobbying goes on in Brussels. Many lobbyists will be able to ﬂy under the radar, unless both lobbying types are included.”
The letter is supported by 100 organisations active in areas such as worker and consumer rights, environment and public health protection, education and development cooperation. Among the long list of supporters are Oxfam, Greenpeace EU, BEUC, UNI Europa and EPSU, to name but a few.
Notes to Editors:
Read the open letter in full and consult the list of all signatories here.
Consult the current Commission proposal for the inter-institutional agreement here.
The inter-institutional agreement process for a reformed EU lobby transparency register should be the ﬁrst, essential step in a much longer process to make EU policy-making far more transparent, tackle excessive corporate inﬂuence, and bring the EU institutions closer to citizens.
Lobby transparency is an important tool in the ﬁght for public-interest decision making at the European level. A comprehensive lobby transparency register must therefore cover both direct and indirect forms of lobbying to provide accurate information about the actors inﬂuencing EU decision-making on behalf of whom, with which budget and on which issues.