Wednesday

21st Nov 2018

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).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

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Critics say the database is out-of-date and riddled with incorrect information.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

Exclusive

EU parliament to renege on transparency promises

Internal legal European parliament documents circulated Tuesday, and seen by EUobserver, rule it illegal to force MEPs to meet only registered lobbyists. The opinion will likely render a larger effort to create a mandatory register for lobbyists null and void.

News in Brief

  1. Hungary grants asylum to ex-Macedonia PM
  2. UK court rules against government in Article 50 case
  3. May to meet Juncker on Wednesday to finalise Brexit deal
  4. Future of EU's Mediterranean naval mission in doubt
  5. EU budget talks for 2019 collapse
  6. EU mulls new Russia sanctions over Ukraine 'elections'
  7. EU farm chief 'confident' sugar prices will recover
  8. Researcher: EU expert groups still imbalanced and opaque

Opinion

Dodgy regime lobbying is below the EU's radar

In Brussels, PR professionals and lobbying consultants are working for some of the world's most autocratic regimes. And we have no way of knowing for sure who they are, how much they are paid, or what they are up to.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Boycott threats mount on eve of Interpol election
  2. EU parliament to renege on transparency promises
  3. Cyprus and Greece to create EU spy academy
  4. MEPs likely to delay vote on greater transparency
  5. Cold shoulder for Franco-German euro budget plan
  6. Whistleblower: Danske Bank gag stops me telling more
  7. Spain raises Gibraltar, as EU and UK talk post-2020 relationship
  8. Panic is not answer to EU's security challenges

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us