The coming weeks will see the start of the negotiations on the exact specification of the EU transparency register between Commission, European Parliament and Council. Already in September 2016, the Commission had presented its new proposal for a revised transparency register. This week, it was the turn of the European Parliament. The Parliament’s Initiative Report on Transparency, Integrity and Accountability (Giegold Report), which the Constitutional Affairs Committee of the European Parliament adopted on 21 March 2017, might be pointing the way ahead for the forthcoming negotiations.
The influence, which lobbyists have within the EU, cannot be underestimated. From the point of view of employees, the great imbalance of the represented interests is a particular problem; economic interests - hence, frequently the individual interest of large corporations - are greatly overrepresented.
Against the background of the forthcoming negotiations in the European Parliament, the AK has supported a Europe-wide initiative of about 100 organisations of the civil society by making demands on MEPs. The signatories of the initiative campaign for a binding lobby register and demand that the EU institutions amend resp. improve the Commission proposal. There is a particular need for improvement regarding the newly proposed definition of lobbying, according to which indirect lobbying (for example by setting up stakeholder groups) shall no longer be recorded/come under by/in the scope of the register. This would provide law firms or think tanks with a loophole, which gives them the chance to avoid registration and to assert influence unnoticed.
However, it has to be regarded as positive that the European Parliament, within the scope of the vote on the Giegold Report, has supported the affirmation of the Commission proposal on the improved control of register entries and making more personnel available for the registration office.
However, an important improvement of the Commission proposal, i.e. the one, which states that in future MEPs too may only meet registered lobbyists, now appears to be in danger: within the scope of the Giegold Report, MEPs have come out against more personal transparency. In contrast, the European Parliament vote with regard to other EU institutions includes important improvements concerning lobby transparency: one of the demands is the extension of the “cooling off phase” for EU Commissioners or makinh the transparency register also apply to the Council.