Thursday

29th Sep 2016

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.

Finland calls for 'pragmatic' EU defence

Finland’s plan for EU defence integration, presented to ministers today, goes less far than Italian or French “visions”, while quietly designating Russia as a threat.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region Seeks to Make Its Voice Heard in the World
  2. Taipei EU OfficeCountries Voice Support for Taiwan's Participation in ICAO
  3. World VisionNew Tool Measuring Government Efforts to Protect Children Released
  4. GoogleDid You Know Europe's Largest Dinosaur Gallery Is in Brussels? Check It Out Now
  5. IPHRHuman Rights in Uzbekistan After Karimov - Joint Statement
  6. CISPECloud Infrastructure Providers Unveil Data Protection Code of Conduct
  7. EFAMessages of Hope From the Basque Country and Galicia
  8. Access NowDigital Rights Heroes and Villains. See Who Protects Your Rights, Who Wants to Take Them Away
  9. Martens CentreQuo Vadis Georgia? What to Expect From the Parliamentary Elections. Debate on 29 September
  10. EJCAppalled by Recommendation to Remove Hamas From EU Terrorism Watch List
  11. GoogleBringing Education to Refugees in Lebanon With the Clooney Foundation for Justice
  12. Belgrade Security ForumCan Democracy Survive Global Disorder?

Latest News

  1. EU commission presents 'realistic' lobbying rules
  2. Evidence mounts of Russia's role in MH17
  3. New EU rules on financial products in limbo
  4. Turkey denies protection to returning Syrians
  5. Budget commissioner Georgieva leaves for UN campaign
  6. Ambition meets reality in EU tax leaks probe
  7. No support for EU army in ministers' talks
  8. Greek MPs approve water and electricity privatisation