Sunday

11th Apr 2021

Razor-edge victory for more lobbying transparency at EP

  • Centre-right MEPs raise their hands to vote against allowing the public to know the lobbyists they meet. (Photo: EUobserver)

Centre-right and liberal MEPs at committee level in the European Parliament on Thursday (6 December) broadly voted against new rules to boost transparency in the institution.

However, their objections were overturned and outvoted by other MEPs in the constitutional affairs committee (AFCO), in a surprise, razor-edge, result.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • EPP voting list on rules of procedure (Photo: EUobserver)

The new rules require committee chairs and others given special tasks to draft reports, known as rapporteurs, to publish online all scheduled meetings with lobbyists.

It also requires parliament to tweak the personal home pages of MEPs so that they can publish their monthly expense accounts, if they so choose to.

Another compromise text that would require MEPs to only meet registered lobbyists was dropped - posing questions on whether a mandatory joint EU transparency register, demanded by the European Commission, will ever see the light of day.

The latest rule change still requires an absolute majority backing (ie of at least 376 MEPs) in a plenary vote scheduled for January before it becomes official.

"The result today was a step in the right direction towards more open and responsive politics, but this is far from over," said Vitor Teixeira, a policy officer at the Transparency International Brussels office.

He said MEPs must now support the amendments in plenary, noting it "as opportunity to finally address issues around lobbying and corporate influence in Brussels."

The amendments were part of a larger report drafted by British socialist Richard Corbett on the so-called rules of procedure.

Thursday's vote was done by hand, making it difficult to trace which particular MEP voted for which measure.

Centre-right MEPs raised their hands to vote against requiring committee chairs and others to publish their meetings with registered lobbyists.

But slight confusion over the counting meant they resorted to an electronic vote, resulting in 10 votes against from the centre-right and liberal MEPs. Eleven other MEPs voted in favour, passing the amendment by a single vote.

The voting had initially been scheduled to take place last month but was delayed following a late opinion by the parliament's legal service.

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.

Centre-right MEPs want transparency vote to be secret

A number of centre-right MEPs are pushing for a secret ballot on a plenary vote that would make EU lawmakers more transparent and accountable to the public - in a move described as "absurd" by Transparency International.

Opinion

Why Brussels' toxic lobbying culture must end

What is revelatory about the study by Corporate Europe Observatory is the sheer number of embassies, committees and advisory groups that lobbyists can target: from the Council all the way down to standing committee on plants, animals, food and feed.

Catalan MEPs lose immunity, slam 'political persecution'

Catalan separatist MEPs Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí lost their parliamentary immunity - a result they have hailed as a "political victory" for bringing the conflict between Catalonia and Spain closer to the heart of Europe.

News in Brief

  1. Turkey blames EU for sexist protocol fiasco
  2. France to close elite civil-service academy
  3. Covid-19 cases in UK drop 60%, study finds
  4. White House urges 'calm' after Northern Ireland riots
  5. Italy's Draghi calls Turkey's Erdoğan a 'dictator'
  6. Slovakia told to return Sputnik V amid quality row
  7. EU risks €87bn in stranded fossil fuel assets
  8. Obligatory vaccination not against human rights, European court says

MEPs chide Portugal and Council in EU prosecutor dispute

The Belgian and Bulgarian prosecutors who were appointed had also not been the experts' first choice. Belgian prosecutor Jean-Michel Verelst has challenged the council's decision at the European Court of Justice.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market

Latest News

  1. The Covid bell tolls for eastern Europe's populists
  2. Four deaths after taking Russian Sputnik V vaccine
  3. Post-Brexit riots flare up in Northern Ireland
  4. Advice on AstraZeneca varies across EU, amid blood clot fears
  5. Greenland election could see halt to rare-earth mining
  6. After 50 years, where do Roma rights stand now?
  7. Why Iran desperately wants a new nuclear deal
  8. Does new EU-ACP deal really 'decolonise' aid?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us