22nd Oct 2020

EU transparency register riddled with errors

  • Over a hundred major companies that lobby EU officials are missing from the EU's joint-transparency register. (Photo:

Incomplete listings and false information by lobbyists in the EU's joint transparency register are among some of the latest findings in a report by transparency group Alter-EU.

Published on Thursday (20 June), the report says the voluntary register, which compiles companies and groups that lobby the European Parliament and the European Commission, “is unconvincing at best, and dismal at worst.”

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

Over 100 major companies known to be lobbying EU officials are missing.

They include Adidas, Apple, General Motors Europe, Heineken, Porsche, Rio Tinto, Disney, Shanks Group, SAP, Time Warner, Nissan, and Northrop Grumman.

Top banks are also missing, such as Banco Santander, BBVA Group, Belfius (formerly Dexia), la Caixa, Erste Group Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, Nomura, Nordea, Rabobank, Royal Bank of Scotland, Swedbank and UBS.

Goldman Sachs, for its part, met with economic affairs commissioner Olli Rehn three times between January 2011 and February 2012.

In the same period, over 60 percent of Rehn’s meeting were with unregistered lobby companies.

Alter-EU says some of the details in the register are not credible and that listed budgets are under-reported.

According to the register, the medium-sized French insurance company IRCEM tops the lobbying budget list with some €55 million spent in 2011.

IRCEM has no office in Brussels.

But its declared spending exceeds the combined lobby expenditures of BNP Paribas, Google, GlaxoSmithKline, Ford, Unilever, Coca-Cola, ExxonMobil, Shell, GDF Suez, British Airways, Microsoft, Bayer, IBM, STATOIL, Syngenta, Ericsson and Nokia.

Other smaller companies with no Brussels-based offices - in the kitchen appliance industry, for instance - also express unusually high lobby budgets.

“It is clearly not credible that small printing or fridge companies are spending more on EU lobbying than far larger and more politically active companies such as Shell, Google or BNP Paribas,” Alter-EU said.

Around 55 smaller to medium-sized lobby consultancies based in Brussels are also not listed.

MEPs want the register to be mandatory but the commission favours a voluntary-based system.

Alter-EU’s Paul de Clerk says a mandatory register would solve a lot of the errors and omissions.

He points out that a legal basis under the Lisbon Treaty exists to create a mandatory register.

“The commission should use the review process to begin making the necessary legislative proposal,” he said in a statement.

Correction : The Alter-EU report incorrectly stated German former centre-right MEP Ingo Friedrich failed to register his consultancy group European Communications in the transparency register. In fact, European Communications was registered but was removed from the registry when Friedrich shut down the offices in Brussels and Munich in 2012. European Communications' website, however, remained active. This article was updated on Friday (12 July).

Spain's Sanchez in storm over judicial appointments bill

Spain's socialist-led coalition has proposed changing how members of the country's top judicial body, the General Council of the Judiciary, are appointed - triggering a political and judicial storm about the independence, and drawing 'double standards' complaints from Poland.

News in Brief

  1. Belarus opposition awarded 2020 Sakharov Prize
  2. Belgium's foreign minister in intensive care for Covid-19
  3. MEPs restrict CAP funding for bullfighting
  4. Coronavirus: Liège is 'the Lombardy of the second wave'
  5. UK to keep out EU nationals with criminal past
  6. Report: EU to restrict travel from Canada, Tunisia, Georgia
  7. Pope Francis supports same-sex civil unions
  8. EU Commission to increase use of open-source software

Corruption failures also highlighted in rule of law report

The European Commission's first report on the rule of law has raised concerns over the lack of effective anti-corruption efforts in some members sates - while it considers Denmark, Finland, Sweden and the Netherlands have good governance measures.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersUN Secretary General to meet with Nordic Council on COVID-19
  3. UNESDAWell-designed Deposit Return Schemes can help reach Single-Use Plastics Directive targets
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  6. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity

Latest News

  1. Nato and EU silent on Turkey, despite Armenia's appeal
  2. EU tells UK to decide on Brexit as deal 'within reach'
  3. EU farming deal attacked by Green groups
  4. France vows tough retaliation for teacher's murder
  5. All eyes on EU court for decision on religious slaughter
  6. 'Big majority' of citizens want EU funds linked to rule of law
  7. EU declares war on Malta and Cyprus passport sales
  8. EU Commission's Libya stance undercut by internal report

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us