Sunday

19th Feb 2017

Pro-transparency groups irked by UK commissioner's lobbyist ties

Transparency groups are urging Jean-Claude Juncker to reject Britain’s EU commission-designate Jonathan Hopkin Hill over his ties to lobbying and lobbyists in Brussels.

The British conservative nominee was introduced to Juncker, the next EU commission president, by prime minister David Cameron in Brussels early Thursday (17 July).

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Cameron wants to secure Hill a top economic portfolio in the new commission but Hill, who is a former lobbyist, is attracting criticism from pro-transparency groups and some MEPs. They have highlighted his extensive ties to major PR firms in London and in Brussels.

On Wednesday, UK media reported he had sold off large shares of Huntsworth plc, an international lobbying firm.

“Belatedly selling his lobby shares is not enough; ex-business lobbyists should have no place in a Juncker commission committed to cleaning up lobbying,” said the Brussels-based Corporate Europe Observatory.

Huntsworth owns Grayling, one of the more influential consultancy companies in Brussels.

Hill also co-founded Quiller Consultants in 1998 before landing a junior ministerial post at the UK government in 2010. Huntsworth bought out Quiller for almost €7.5 million in 2006.

His nomination may be a test for Juncker’s promise for more transparency on corporate-led lobbying at the institutions.

At a speech delivered at the Strasbourg-plenary on Tuesday, Juncker said he would propose a mandatory lobby register covering all three institutions.

“Our citizens have the right to know with whom commissioners and commission staff, members of the European Parliament or representatives of the council meet in the context of the legislative process,” said the former Luxembourg prime minister.

This represents a change from the outgoing commission, which has been reluctant to make the register outright mandatory.

At the moment, the EU transparency register is voluntary and covers the European Parliament and the European Commission.

Of the 6,000 or so entities in the register, only around 2,800 are said to be in Brussels.

Critics say the database is out-of-date and riddled with incorrect information.

They also note that law firms, unless they engage in “interest representation”, are not required to sign the register.

MEPs had earlier this year requested the commission bring forward a proposal to make the joint-register mandatory by 2016.

Opinion

How to fix the EU 'revolving door'

Barroso's move to Goldman Sachs screams out the need for EU institutions to create a real ethics panel that inflicts financial and other sanctions on people who sell out the public they once served.

Le Pen used 'fake' EU parliament jobs

A leaked EU anti-fraud office report says French far-right leader, Marine Le Pen, had her bodyguard and personal assistant paid by the EU parliament for jobs they did not do.

EU commission drops anti-corruption report

Transparency campaigners are livid after the EU commission scuppered plans to publish an EU anti-corruption report amid unfolding corruption scandals in Romania and France.

News in Brief

  1. Migrants storm Spanish enclave of Ceuta
  2. Spain's princess fined for tax fraud, husband sentenced
  3. EU to invest millions in energy infrastructure
  4. Dutch data watchdog forces online vote aides to up security
  5. EU allows Lithuania to ban Russian tv channel
  6. Finland announces increase in defence spending
  7. Ex-PM Blair says Brits should 'rise up' against Brexit
  8. Nato chief says facts to prevail over fake news

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Fees: Council Reaches Agreement on Wholesale Caps
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Help Startups Access US Market
  3. Centre Maurits CoppietersMinorities and Migrations
  4. Salzburg Global SeminarThe Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play
  5. UNICEFNumber of Ukrainian Children Needing Aid Nearly Doubles to 1 Million Over the Past Year
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersThe Situation of Refugee Women in Europe
  7. Salzburg Global SeminarToward a Shared Culture of Health: Charting the Patient-Clinician Relationship
  8. European Free AllianceAustria Should Preserve & Promote Bilingual and Multinational Carinthia
  9. Martens CentreShow Your Love for Democracy! Take Part in Our Contest: "If It's Broken, Let's Fix It"
  10. CISPECloud Computing Leaders Establish Data Protection Standards to Protect Customer Data
  11. Malta EU 2017Landmark Deal Reached With European Parliament on Portability of Online Content
  12. Belgrade Security ForumBSF 2017: Building a Common Future in the Age of Uncertainty