Monday

20th May 2019

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Critics say the database is out-of-date and riddled with incorrect information.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

Analysis

Sibiu: EU leaders prepare post-Brexit show of unity

With the European elections just three weeks away, the EU-27 will try to set the agenda for the next years for the EU institutions. But with persisting divisions on key issues, unity will be an achievement in itself.

Exclusive

Ombudsman backs EUobserver on MEP expenses

The European Parliament should have granted access to documents on a decision about how transparent MEPs should be in future with their office expenses, says EU Ombudsman.

EU want Facebook pan-EU advert fix for May elections

EU institutions want Facebook to relax its rules, to allow pan-European political groups to carry out EU-wide campaigns. Facebook has yet to implement the demands - posing questions on the extent to which Europe relies on the US tech firm.

News in Brief

  1. EU flies rainbow flag on anti-homophobia day
  2. EU to freeze money and visas of foreign cyber-attackers
  3. EU reassures US on arms sales
  4. Use euros over dollars in energy contracts, France says
  5. UK cross-party Brexit talks collapse
  6. Climate activists occupy German-Russian gas pipeline
  7. Farage got €515,000 of private perks
  8. French EU commissioner urges Italy not to overspend

Magazine

The changing of the guards in the EU in 2019

The four most powerful EU institutions - Commission, Parliament, Council and Central Bank will all have new leaders in the coming ten months. Here is an overview.

Magazine

Explained: What is the European Parliament?

While domestic political parties often use the European Parliament as a dumping ground for unwanted politicians - and a majority of citizens don't bother to vote - the parliament, over the years, has become a dominant force in the EU.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us