Monday

3rd Oct 2022

Mandatory lobby register requires EU treaty change

A treaty change or a unanimous decision from member states is needed to make the EU-joint transparency register mandatory.

“To get a legal base, we need a treaty change,” German centre-right MEP Rainer Wieland, told this website on Friday (13 December).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

“And we expect the commission to come up with a proposal for a legal base,” added Wieland, who heads the parliament’s working group on the joint transparency register.

A review of the register on Thursday recommends the European Commission come forward with a proposal to adapt the EU Treaty to make it compulsory.

The idea still has to get screened and approved by the parliament’s constitutional affairs committee before a formal proposal is put forward to the commission.

Should the treaty change idea fall apart then the commission needs to put together another proposal by 2016, which would require unanimity among EU member states.

Wieland said this is the least favourable of the two options because it would exclude the parliament from having any influence.

“It is also possible the commission does not want to come with a proposal because it is out of any reach to get a decision of the council,” he said.

If no decision is made, then the transparency register will come up for review again in 2017.

Parliament sources say European commissioner for inter-institutional affairs Maros Sefcovic wants to keep the register voluntary in order to attract more entries.

The commission’s official line is that making the register mandatory would be too difficult.

“It would raise a great number of complex legal issues, in particular with regard to the scope of the register, and compliance with other articles of the treaties,” it said in a statement.

The two sides came together to review the register and instead put forward some 30 recommendations to improve it.

One idea is to expand the scope to include all lobbying activities no matter where they take place geographically.

Another is to make a distinction between for profit and non-profit agencies.

Both the MEPs and the commission agree incentives need to be put in place to encourage more people to register.

The working group wants to shut out the exceptions to a rule that requires registration to access parliament buildings.

“These incentives include facilitating access to EP premises, the possibility to be consulted by the commission as experts or by heard at EP committee hearings,” notes the working group.

But Olivier Hoedeman at the Brussels-base Corporate Europe Observatory described the recommendations as “incredibly vague.”

He noted the commission meets with major corporations that are not in the registry like US investment bank Goldman Sachs.

The commission, for its part, estimates up to 75 percent of all relevant business-related entities and around 60 percent of NGOs operating in Brussels have registered.

Nearly 6,000 organisations are currently in the register, although pro-transparency groups say numerous entries are either out of date and contain errors.

Registrants are required to update the data once a year and on issues they lobbied on in the previous year.

Feature

Why northeast Italy traded in League for Brothers of Italy

EUobserver spoke with several business figures and all confirmed they voted for Georgia Meloni's Brothers of Italy because it promised stability, less bureaucracy and tax cuts. Matteo Salvini's anti-EU rhetoric scared them, while they trust Meloni has "more common sense".

Europe's far-right celebrates Meloni victory

In Warsaw and Budapest, the prime ministers were quick to congratulate the new Italian leader, who — they hope — will back them in their battles with the EU over civil rights, rule of law and democratic backsliding.

EU seeks crisis powers to take control over supply chains

The Single Market Emergency Instrument (SMEI) introduces a staged, step-by-step, approach — providing emergency powers to the EU Commission to tackle any potential threat which could trigger disruptions or shortages of key products within the EU.

Testimony from son rocks trial of ex-Czech PM Babiš

In a fraud trial relating to €2m in EU subsidies, Andrej Babiš son testified his signature on share-transfer agreements was forged. He claims his father transferred the shares to him without his knowledge, making him a front man for scheme.

Podcast

How Europe helped normalise Georgia Meloni

Should Georgia Meloni be considered neofascist? She insists she's a patriotic conservative. And indeed, if she's prime minister, she's expected to respect Italy's democracy — if only to keep money flowing from the EU.

News in Brief

  1. EU ministers adopt measures to tackle soaring energy bills
  2. EU takes Malta to court over golden passports
  3. EU to ban Russian products worth €7bn a year more
  4. Denmark: CIA did not warn of Nord Stream attack
  5. Drone sightings in the North Sea 'occurred over months'
  6. Gazprom threatens to cut gas deliveries to Europe via Ukraine
  7. New compromise over EU energy emergency measures
  8. 15 states push for EU-wide gas price cap

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The European Association for Storage of EnergyRegister for the Energy Storage Global Conference, held in Brussels on 11-13 Oct.
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  3. European Committee of the RegionsThe 20th edition of EURegionsWeek is ready to take off. Save your spot in Brussels.
  4. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries

Latest News

  1. Editor's weekly digest: A week of leaks
  2. Putin declares holy war on Western 'satanism'
  3. Two elections and 'Macron's club' in focus Next WEEK
  4. EU agrees windfall energy firm tax — but split on gas-price cap
  5. Ukrainian chess prodigy: 'We are not going to resign ... anywhere'
  6. Going Down Under — EU needs to finish trade deal with Australia
  7. MEPs worry Russian disinfo weakens support for Ukraine
  8. Everything you need to know about the EU gas price cap plan

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us