Wednesday

14th Nov 2018

EU lobby register blasted as wildly inaccurate

  • Several firms appear to have entered inaccurate data in the EU's lobby registry (Photo: Jorge Franganillo)

The European Commission has attracted fresh criticism over its fledgling EU lobby register, with new analysis suggesting that data for five out of the top 15 entries is likely to be inaccurate.

The number crunching exercise carried out using software robots by the pro-transparency coalition group Alter-EU on Monday evening (27 September) suggests many entrants have erroneously entered annual turnover figures rather than their EU lobbying budgets, placing them artificially high on EU register which was set up three years ago. Others appear to have simply misunderstood the term 'EU lobbying'.

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

As a result, one individual who pledged €5 million to the UK Conservative party and describes his aim as the setting up of a "university lottery for European universities" finds himself in eight position on the list.

Another surprisingly high entry is the Greek electronics firm, Prisma Electronics SA, which registered in tenth position after it declared its annual expenditure on EU lobbying as €3.9 million. The firm's website says the company's annuals sales are US$2.5 million - US$5 million, however. No one was available for available for an immediate comment.

"These companies do not have bad intentions, they just appear to have made a mistake in their reporting," Olivier Hoedeman, a researcher involved in the data crunching, told this website. "The commission should be monitoring this, there must be a huge number of inaccurate entries," he added.

At the same time, Alter-EU's exercise in arranging the 3000 entrants on the list according to their stated expenditure on EU lobbying has thrown up a number of figures which the group describes as "impossibly small", while other companies are noticeable through their complete absence from the register.

Revolving doors

Speaking at an event in the European parliament on Tuesday, Christian Linder, a cabinet member of EU administration commissioner Maros Sefcovic, said EU rules did not enable a system of compulsory registration.

"There is no legal basis in the treaty that makes it obligatory," he told participants at an event to mark the 'International Right to Know Day'.

The EU executive body has been rocked by further allegations in recent days, related to the take-up of private sector jobs by six out of the 13 commissioners who finished their jobs in February.

Alter-EU has called for the introduction of a three-year 'cooling-off' period for former commissioners, and urged the current administration to block the new jobs occupied by Charlie McCreevy and Gunter Verheugen because of conflicts of interest.

The group said the commission's existing checks are inadequate, pointing to the work of the institution's Ad-hoc Ethical Committee as "superficial". The committee has yet to reject a single application.

In response to mounting criticism, Mr Verheugen has claimed that his job at the Royal Bank of Scotland does not involve lobbying, while his recently set-up lobby firm, the European Experience Company, is also above board as he does not officially work there.

Access to documentation

Questions over the ability of European citizens to access EU documents is another component in the increasingly heady mix of complaints, with a group of environmental lawyers recently suing the EU over alleged attempts to restrict access to information.

"The EU institutions are currently suffering from a legitimacy deficit, not a democratic deficit, so the EU can ill-afford to ignore transparency," warned European Ombudsman Nikiforos Diamandouros, co-organiser of the event.

Mr Diamandouros said more than one third of the Ombudsman's inquiries concern complaints about the lack of transparency in the EU administration, including difficulties in accessing information.

EU sued over lack of transparency

A group of environmental lawyers are suing the EU over alleged attempts to restrict access to information and a lack of transparency in the bloc's biofuels policy.

Merkel calls for 'real, true' EU army

Angela Merkel's much-anticipated speech to the European Parliament was brief and to the point. Her message: Europe is alone in the world, the EU should be more united on defence, but not on the economy.

Italy defiant on budget on eve of EU deadline

Italy would be committing economic "suicide" if it fell in line with EU rules, its deputy leader has said, in a sign that Rome has little intention of bowing to pressure ahead of Tuesday's budget deadline.

EU action on Hungary and Poland drowns in procedure

EU ministers' discussion on how to address rule of law issues in Poland and Hungary gets stuck on procedural issues, while Viktor Orban's government claims it is a target of the Brussels elite because of its anti-migration stance.

News in Brief

  1. Draft Brexit deal on London cabinet agenda on Wednesday
  2. EU proposes no visa for UK citizens after Brexit
  3. EU parliament 'deeply concerned' on Romania judiciary
  4. Macedonia's ex-PM flees to Hungary, seeks asylum
  5. Cyprus opens first new border crossings in eight years
  6. Putin's Austrian dance partner cancels Moscow visit
  7. Political deadlock over Sweden Democrat influence
  8. Court: Catalan referendum organisers must repay costs

Opinion

EU 'Magnitsky Act' must bear its proper name

Sergei Magnitsky gave his life to fighting corruption. The least we can do is to honour his sacrifice in the name of the legislation that his heroism inspired.

Opinion

All Quiet on the Eastern Front?

Russia is trying to foment a clash between Hungary and Ukraine over the territory of Zakarpattia in a potential crisis overlooked by EU leaders.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Merkel calls for 'real, true' EU army
  2. Italy defiant on budget on eve of EU deadline
  3. EU action on Hungary and Poland drowns in procedure
  4. EU unable to fully trace €1bn spent on refugees in Turkey
  5. Romanian leaders trade jibes over upcoming EU presidency
  6. EU warns Romania not to abuse GDPR against press
  7. EU 'Magnitsky Act' must bear its proper name
  8. Fear of nationalist surge marks European memorials

Stakeholders' Highlights

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

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us