Over 25,000 lobbyists go in and out of the European institutions in Brussels every day to influence EU politics. Corporate lobbyists have excessive influence on political decisions that affect peoples’ daily lives, regarding issues such as TTIP, tax fraud, tobacco, data privacy or the climate. Citizens, on the other hand, have no access to information about which politicians the lobbyists meet, what issues they try to influence and how many billions they spend on it. This is a threat to our democracy.
After persistent pressure from civil society, the European Commission is finally taking action to control the influence of big business over EU politicians. It is inviting all Europeans to take part in a survey and submit their ideas on how to improve lobby transparency in the EU.
Democracy International wants to use this opportunity to demand clear and strict rules that will prevent secret lobbying in the future. Together with the Europe-wide network ALTER-EU (Alliance for Lobbing Transparency and Ethics Regulation) Democracy International has prepared suggestions for citizens to respond to the survey.
Democracy International’s priorities for a strong transparency law on lobbyists include:
• A mandatory lobby transparency register should require all EU lobbyists to register, disclosing accurate and up-to-date information and with adequate sanctioning capacities in cases of fraud
• All EU decision-makers should be banned from meeting with unregistered lobbyists and should oblige them to publish online lists of all meetings held with lobbyists (existing rules should apply for all 30,000 employees, not only 300 senior officials)
• Meetings with big business lobbies should be limited and balanced with interactions with other stakeholders, including civil society organisations
• “Trialogue” talks, by which 90% of EU law is decided in fast-track mode behind closed doors, must be made to the exception in decision-making, and must have greater transparency with a timely publication of documents
• Tougher codes of conduct in the EU institutions should prevent public officials from side jobs that imply lobbying, conflicts of interest and the revolving door
• Lobby rules should apply also to the European Council, the Council of Ministers and Permanent Representations in Brussels, and not only the European Parliament and Commission
Please take a couple of minutes to respond to the survey. The European Commission’s public consultation offers an opportunity to put public pressure for a mandatory, legally binding lobby register.
- EU public consultation
- ALTER-EU and Democracy International’s suggested answers (PDF-Document)
- All further information here