Sunday

23rd Jul 2017

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'.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  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.

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.

Polish parliament steps up showdown with EU

Lawmakers in Poland adopted a controversial reform of the Supreme Court, despite warnings from the EU that the move could trigger a sanction procedure over the rule of law.

EU urges UK to clarify its Brexit positions

EU and UK negotiators presented their Brexit positions to identify common grounds this week, but that was made difficult by the scarcity of UK position papers.

Opinion

Winter is here for Spitzenkandidat, but he'll survive

Candidates from all political families should be presenting their vision on where the Union should be headed. European socialists want to keep the Spitzenkandidat procedure for future elections.

EU urges UK to clarify its Brexit positions

EU and UK negotiators presented their Brexit positions to identify common grounds this week, but that was made difficult by the scarcity of UK position papers.

News in Brief

  1. Polish parliament adopts controversial justice reform
  2. GMO opt-out plan unlikely to go anywhere in 2017
  3. Slovak PM threatens to boycott inferior food
  4. France takes Google's 'right to be forgotten' to EU court
  5. Turkey accuses German companies of supporting terror
  6. Israel's Netanyahu caught calling EU 'crazy'
  7. UK does not collect enough data to expel EU nationals
  8. Polish president threatens to veto justice reform

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  2. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  3. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  4. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  5. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  6. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Episode 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  9. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  10. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEuFoA Director and MEPs Comment on the Recent Conflict Escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh
  12. EU2017EEEstonian Presidency Kicks off Youth Programme With Coding Summer School

Latest News

  1. Dutch coalition talks lengthiest in 40 years
  2. Polish parliament steps up showdown with EU
  3. EU urges UK to clarify its Brexit positions
  4. Law expert: direct EU powers have become too complicated
  5. Winter is here for Spitzenkandidat, but he'll survive
  6. Mafia money pollutes the EU economy
  7. Central Europe should be wary of Brexit stopping
  8. Poland's 'July coup' and what it means for the judiciary