21st Mar 2018

Majority of Brussels lobby firms avoid registry

  • The commission headquarters: Many lobby consultancies are ignoring the commission's registry (Photo: European Commission)

Over 60 percent of Brussels-based lobbying consultancies have yet to sign up to the European Commission's lobby register, almost two years after it was first launched.

According to a fresh survey of the commission's initiative by the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (Alter-EU) to be published on Thursday (11 March), of the 286 lobbying consultancies known to provide such services in the European capital, only 112, or 39.2 percent have signed up to the registry.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Frustrated with the various definitions of who is and who is not a lobbyist, Alter-EU restricted themselves to investigating just those firms which are explicitly lobbyist outfits, excluding from their survey trade associations, think tanks, law firms and individuals.

Among their number, which range from big multinational players down to the more boutique-type outfits, are Grayling, the Brunswick Group, Cabinet DN and FD Blueprint.

These consultancies mainly work on behalf of other large firms and industry umbrella groups, promoting such parties' interests in EU policy making.

At the same time, of the 174 consultancies missing from the commission's register, 104 do have lobbyists accredited at the European Parliament, meaning that their staff have access badges to the parliament buildings.

Companies have no shortage of tricks to pursue their clients' interests in the EU capital while avoiding the spotlight. "You can hire a PR firm, which in turn hires a law firm to do the work in Brussels and you stay off the radar," one executive at a leading Brussels-based PR firm said.

Erik Wesselius, a spokesman for the pro-transparency NGO - which itself lobbies, but on the issue of lobbying itself - said: "[These] lobby firms active in Brussels do not bother to register and are not transparent about their lobbying activities.

"Genuine transparency can only be secured when registration becomes de facto mandatory, by linking physical access to disclosure requirements."

The commission's register is voluntary, although the European Parliament passed a resolution in May 2008 that called for a mandatory register of all actors lobbying the EU institutions.

A commission-parliament committee working to construct a joint register for the two institutions is expected to resume talks later this month.

In a recent newspaper opinion piece, British Liberal MEP Diane Wallis, who has been actively involved with the register process, suggested MEPs should politely decline meeting lobbyists who do not register.

Alter-EU has sent copies of the survey to commissioner Maros Sefcovic, responsible for the European transparency initiative, and MEPs working on a common lobby transparency register for the European Commission and the European Parliament.

Commission rejects ombudsman criticism over Barroso case

The European Commission repeated that it followed the rules when its former head joined Goldman Sachs - and suggested it will not follow the EU Ombudsman's demand to refer the case back to the ethics committee.

News in Brief

  1. Separatist activist renounces Catalonia leadership candidacy
  2. EU puts conditions on Bayer-Monsanto merger
  3. Hard Brexit would hit poorer Irish households hardest
  4. Finland hosts secretive North Korean talks
  5. EU to unveil 3% tax on digital giants
  6. German elected S&D leader in European Parliament
  7. Germany: nearly €350m child benefit goes abroad
  8. Norway's far-right doubles support as minister resigns

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EUobserverStart a Career in EU Media. Apply Now to Become Our Next Sales Associate
  2. EUobserverHiring - Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience - Apply Now!
  3. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  4. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  5. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  6. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  7. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  8. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  10. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  11. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  12. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?

Latest News

  1. Judicial reforms 'restore balance', Poland tells EU
  2. Whistleblower fears for life as US arrest Malta bank chair
  3. Behind the scenes at Monday's EU talks on Russia
  4. US yet to push on Nord Stream 2 sanctions
  5. EU mulls coercion to get refugee kids' fingerprints
  6. Five east European states prevent new CAP consensus
  7. EU to probe UK 'election-rigging' firm
  8. 'Denial' - is meat the new climate change?