Tuesday

17th Jul 2018

EU to 'extend' lobbyist register

  • Information to be policed by Secretariat, with enough staff for 'proper' investigations (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

Member states have agreed to join an EU lobbyist register, but only for top-tier officials.

The "mandatory" register is to cover a broad range of "interest representatives", including lobby firms, law firms, and NGOs in the EU capital, according to terms agreed by member states' ambassadors in Brussels on Wednesday (6 December).

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.

... our join as a group

  • Transparency increase EU 'legitimacy' Maasikas said (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

They will have to publish details of clients and fees in return for access to "senior staff" in the EU Council, where member states meet, in the European Commission, and in the European Parliament.

The information will be policed by a new secretariat, with enough staff to do "proper" investigations and with the authority to inspect documents.

Cheaters could see individual staff banned for up to a year or for the whole company to be kicked off the register for up to two years.

Matti Maasikas, the deputy EU affairs minister of Estonia, which holds the EU presidency, said on Wednesday that "increased transparency in EU decision-making is a must if we want to remain credible to our citizens. It increases the legitimacy of our decisions".

"Our mandate will allow for meaningful participation of the council in the new transparency register and will ensure that it is more effective and inclusive," he said.

The proposed definition of "senior staff" means that only meetings with the council's secretary general and with the directors general of the council's internal bureaucracy will be covered, however.

Estonia said meetings between lobbyists and member states' envoys in EU embassies were to remain "the sole responsibility of the member state concerned".

But for Sven Giegold, a German Green MEP who deals with transparency, that meant Wednesday's agreement was little more than "empty packaging".

Giegold noted that it was member states' envoys, not council officials, who actually shaped EU legislation.

"These [officials] are not the ones to negotiate and decide EU laws. The council needs to make meetings conditional upon registration for those who negotiate and decide EU laws," he said.

Positive experience

The council proposal was based on an existing commission and parliament "transparency register" that dates back to 2014.

Wednesday's agreement said this should be "extended in an appropriate way to the council" due to "the positive experience" of the current measures.

The secretariat with the investigative powers comes after years in which the existing register was bedevilled by misleading information.

In a recent case, US firm Monsanto, which makes the controversial weedkiller Roundup, under-reported its EU lobbying by at least €500,000.

The new regime is to force lobby firms to declare all clients, intermediaries, and their intermediaries' clients whose fees amount to €10,000 or more each year.

It covers law firms, but only when they do lobbying, not when they represent a client in legal proceedings.

It also excludes political parties and "churches and religious associations or communities as well as philosophical and non- confessional organisations".

Opportunity

The member states' proposal sounded a positive note on getting input into EU law-making.

"Engaging with stakeholders enhances the quality of decision-making by providing channels for the input of external views and expertise," it said.

Council, commission, and parliament officials will now hold talks on the final model for the project, in what Giegold called "a great opportunity for coherent lobby transparency of all EU institutions".

Schengen at stake in Austria-Germany talks

German interior minister Horst Seehofer is in Vienna on Thursday - as his plan to reject some asylum seekers was met by an Austrian threat to close its borders too.

Polish PM defends judicial witch-hunt

Poland's judicial purge was meant to punish former communists, its PM has said, in an angry EU debate that saw him ultimately promise to respect EU court rulings.

EU leaders still in search of migration plan

Select EU leaders met amid rising tension over migration, with Italy's PM, who had threatened to boycott the summit, putting forward a new plans to stop boats from leaving Libya.

Feature

EU and Turkey fight for 'lost generation'

Some 300,000 school-age Syrian children in Turkey are not enrolled in classes. Fears they may end up in sweatshops or forced to beg have triggered efforts by the EU, Unicef, and the Turkish government to keep them in school.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Latest News

  1. Putin asks Trump to go after British activist
  2. May caves in to Brexiteer demands, risking 'no deal'
  3. EU and China agree on words, not yet on action
  4. EU is 'foe', as Trump seeks to make friends with Putin
  5. Let's not be 'naive' with Chinese partner, says senior MEP
  6. Trump, trade, and Brexit in EU headlines This WEEK
  7. EU and China edge closer in Trump's 'America First' world
  8. How the World Cup exposed Russian chauvinism

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  2. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  4. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  5. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  7. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  8. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  10. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  12. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us