Wednesday

12th May 2021

EU lobbyist register gives incomplete picture

  • The register contains a lot of inaccurate data, says the pro-transparency group (Photo: European Commission)

A joint transparency register launched by the European Commission and the European Parliament precisely one year ago is riddled with inaccuracies and gaps.

A report released on Monday (25 June) by the pro-transparency group Alter-EU says the voluntary register is failing to give a complete picture of lobbying in Brussels.

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

"The reality is that far too many lobbies continue to boycott the register, including many large companies and law firms active in lobbying," said Alter-EU's Olivier Hoedeman.

Companies in the pharmaceutical, nuclear energy, financial sector, agri-business, as well as some Brussels-based think-tanks, are missing from the list.

Altogether, Alter-EU identified 120 companies, many of the world's largest, who actively lobby in Brussels but are not in the register.

Apple Inc, Disney, Time Warner, Rio Tinto, and Monsanto are not in. Some 15 financial institutions, including Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, and UBS have not signed up either.

Most of the big Brussels-based consultancy groups are registered, with the exception of Ketchum Pleon Belgium, Aspect Consulting, UK lobby firm Bell Pottinger, and MacBrien Cuper Isnard.

Law firms Covington & Burling and DLA Piper are also missing. Law firms Linklaters and Reed Smith LLP have signed up but fail to disclose information on their clients in violation of the registry requirements, says Alter-EU.

Over 60 percent of the companies lobbying to get the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) ratified are also missing.

In other instances, the stated amount spent by the company on lobbying is questionable.

Alter-EU found 50 cases where companies claim they spend less than one euro per year on lobbying.

The American camera equipment producer, Panavision, is another anomaly. It spent more on lobbying than ExxonMobil, Shell and GDF Suez combined.

But Panavision has no Brussels-based office and is not affiliated with any Brussels-based lobby consultancies or think tanks, says Alter-EU.

In the US, the camera company spent $10,000 on lobbying in 2010 and nothing in 2011. In Brussels, it spends €35 million per year on lobbying.

Alter-EU believes that a mandatory register is necessary if the two EU institutions are sincere in their stated commitments to transparency.

The European Commission, for its part, said the register will come under review next year.

"The question of whether or not to make it compulsory can be looked at again then, along with any other issues arising from two years' experience with the register," institutional affairs spokesperson Antonio Gravili told this website.

In June, the commission launched a new transparency portal where the public can peruse lobbyists and identify the individuals who sit on its expert and advisory committees.

"The transparency portal brings all those tools, and lots more information besides, front and centre - where they belong," said Maros Sefcovic, the EU commissioner responsible for inter-institutional relations.

Talks collapse on access to EU documents

The EU Council's former top lawyer explains why legal advice should be kept secret, as talks collapse on new freedom of information rules.

Anti-gay lobby in Brussels linked to US neocons

Lobbyists in the EU capital opposing gay rights are in close contact with American neoconservative organisations, raising questions about where their money comes from.

News in Brief

  1. Israeli rockets kill 20 people in Gaza retaliation
  2. No more EU expulsions likely over Russia bomb attacks
  3. EU ready to ignore Hungary veto on Hong Kong
  4. Borrell admits EU neglect of Western Balkans
  5. Macron accused of 'cowardice and deceit' in military letter
  6. EU citizens in UK applying for settled status face legal limbo
  7. Netherlands gives €2bn to offshore carbon storage project
  8. Germany will allow Johnson & Johnson vaccine for all ages

MEPs chide Portugal and Council in EU prosecutor dispute

The Belgian and Bulgarian prosecutors who were appointed had also not been the experts' first choice. Belgian prosecutor Jean-Michel Verelst has challenged the council's decision at the European Court of Justice.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. Russia penetrated Merkel's 'inner circle', Khodorkovsky says
  2. First recovery euros could be paid out in July
  3. Commission wants help for Italy after weekend's migrant arrivals
  4. Mercosur trade deal will fuel 'poison pesticides' back into EU
  5. Can new Iran talks avoid mistakes of the original JCPOA?
  6. EU and US urge Israel to defuse Jerusalem violence
  7. Frontex 'mislabelling minors as adults' on Greek islands
  8. Has Albania really met the 15 tests to join the EU? No

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us