Sunday

21st Apr 2019

EU lawyers support mandatory lobby register

  • Lobbyists in Brussels back plans to create a mandatory lobbying register (Photo: The European Union)

A top EU bar association wants a mandatory lobbying register imposed in Brussels that includes lawyers.

"We believe it would be better if the EU moves to a mandatory system with ideally, a proper legal basis," Simone Cuomo, spokesperson at the Brussels-based Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) told this website on Monday (6 June).

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

The move marks a possible big leap given past reluctance by lawyers to disclose their client lists to the general public. Cuomo said such disclosures would still require client consent.

The EU's current lobby register is voluntary and is shared jointly by the European Commission and the European Parliament. The two institutions also oversee the register.

But Cuomo says the register should be controlled by an independent body and not one that is both the "party and judge". He noted lawyers are often in court against the EU institutions.

"You just won a case and the Commission was an opponent and two weeks later you get a nice letter saying that you are not following the rules in the transparency register. There might be a direct link," he said.

CCBE, he said, also backs imposing sanctions for those who break the rules but only if the body is independent.

Similar registers in Canada and the US include lawyers. While in Europe, few aside lawyers from the UK and Ireland have backed a mandatory register.

"The French and the Belgian lawyers have actually come around on this," said Daniel Freund, at the Transparency International (TI) office in Brussels.

"The only ones blocking it at this point are the politicians," he noted.

Other big lobbying groups based in Brussels also support setting up a mandatory register.

The Society of European Affairs Professionals (SEAP) and the European Public Affairs Consultancies' Association (EPACA) want it.

In a joint letter signed by TI among others, the lobbyist groups says "it’s time for a robust and credible transparency regime".

The EU commission, for its part, is to propose an inter-institutional agreement on a mandatory register sometime near the end of the year. The proposal will also include bringing the Council, representing member states, into the joint register.

Opinion

Lobbying transparency enhances MEPs' freedom

At a time when citizens expect an unprecedented level of accountability from their elected representatives, senior MEPs use their ‘free mandate’ to justify opposing new lobbying transparency rules.

Lobby register transparency talks collapse

Efforts to set up a better transparency register for lobbyists have collapsed after two years of talks. The impasse revolves around the European Commission's insistence that the register also become mandatory for the European Parliament and Council.

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. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  2. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  3. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute
  4. Brunei defends stoning to death of gay men in EU letter
  5. US Democrats side with Ireland on Brexit
  6. Wifi or 5G to connect EU cars? MEPs weigh in
  7. How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament
  8. EU parliament backs whistleblower law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us