Monday

3rd Oct 2022

Stakeholder

Transparency Register: keep it voluntary, add incentives

The Society of European Affairs Professionals, SEAP, broadly welcomes the clarifications and changes proposed to the Transparency Register by the joint working group of the Commission & European Parliament.

There are some helpful clarifications in line with calls made by SEAP as well as some changes which may need further study. SEAP welcomes the endorsement to add incentives for voluntary registration.

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

Incentives are key. We had proposed linking registration to speaker engagement, events and participation in expert groups. It is good to see the working group strongly endorsed this. It is a pity however that there is a recommendation which reverses who should be proactive in finding out if an organisation is registered.

Is the Register's Code good enough?

SEAP understands the call by other organisations such as ALTER-EU about the EU's transparency register code of conduct but believes ALTER-EU have missed the point.

ALTER-EU is arguing for a stronger code that broadly addresses the behaviour of lobbyists. This is not the rationale behind the EU's code which is all about the relationship between a lobbyist and the EU. It is however the rationale behind SEAP's code.

European affairs professionals are a vital part of the democratic process, acting as a link between on the one hand business and civil society, and on the other, European policy makers. It is their role to find out the objectives of policy makers, to analyse, assess implication, and then to react.

That process of information gathering and using that information has to be done correctly. This is why SEAP members adhere to an ethical code.

Dr. Susanna Di Feliciantonio, SEAP President explains: "There is a difference between the objectives of the EU register – that of transparency, and the objectives of a self-regulatory code of conduct. SEAP's code is about lobbyists coming together and saying we will act ethically. Transparency is but one part of that ethical behaviour."

The SEAP code of ethical conduct goes far beyond the basic transparency of the EU register's code. A side by side comparison shows the SEAP code mirrors the EU code's nine articles, and adds a further seven.

The EU code's articles are about the relationship between a lobbyist and the EU. For example, article a) is about identification "by name" and "by the interests …they represent". Article c) is about not claiming "any formal relationship with the EU". Article e) is about not selling free documents issued by the EU. This is a code of transparent relationships.

The SEAP code, is about the ethical behaviour of a lobbyist. Articles unique to the SEAP code include article 1) "act with honesty and integrity at all times", article 2) "maintain the highest standards of professionalism", and article 3 "ensure the truth and accuracy of all statements".

Moreover, the SEAP code contains a strong article on conflicts. Article 5 calls for the avoiding of conflicts, and their swift disclosure and resolution when they do arise. This is a code of behaviour.

SEAP does not believe it is the role of the EU to control the behaviour of lobbyists. This is a role for lobbyists themselves. This is self-regulation. This is SEAP's job. Professionals who are serious about business ethics demonstrate it by joining SEAP.

What of the Register and incoming MEPs?

Over the coming years the new crop of MEPs being elected in May this year will meet with numerous lobbyists. SEAP would welcome any conversation that starts with them asking any visitor: "Are you in the Transparency Register? And there are two other good questions to ask.

"Are you a member of SEAP?" "Are you a signatory of a code of ethical behaviour?"

These questions have relevance. If ever there is a transgression by a SEAP member, the MEP (and indeed a Commission official) has standing to make a direct complaint to the organisation. The complaint will be investigated and, if upheld, meaningful action will be taken.

Transparency, incentives for voluntary registration, and ethical behaviour: that's the synergy between the Register and SEAP.

Author bio

Philip Sheppard is Vice-President Society of European Affairs Professionals, SEAP, the recognised organisation of all EU public affairs professionals including those operating in trade associations, corporations, consultancies and other representative bodies.

Disclaimer

This article is sponsored by a third party. All opinions in this article reflect the views of the author and not of EUobserver.

A window to EU lobbying and lobbyists

The EU transparency register for the European Parliament and the European Commission was launched in the summer of 2011 to better expose outside influence on EU law and decision-making.

For China and EU, cooperation is our only right way forward

In a world of profound changes, we believe that healthy and stable China-EU relations, especially in the economic and trade realm, can help counter the uncertainty on the global economic stage, and are conducive to global development and prosperity.

Ensuring global food security: what China says and does

The problem did not pop up just this summer. The consequences of the climate crisis, compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, have significantly driven up food prices, tipping millions of people into hunger, especially in developing countries.

Standing for women's rights in Poland and world is liberal duty

Abortion remains criminalised in Malta and Andorra. In Poland, the ultraconservative government is doing everything to ensure that abortion is basically impossible. In Italy, Slovakia, and Croatia, despite abortion being legal, ultraconservative parties have committed themselves to scale-back access.

EU, wake up! Don't leave West Balkans to Russia or China

Russia's attack on Ukraine and European values must remind us how important the enlargement process is, if properly conducted, as a motor for democracy, freedom, peace, the rule of law and prosperity, write six S&D MEPs.

Dialogue and action – Nordic cooperation and view on COP26

Nordic countries launched several initiatives at the COP26 climate conference which will have a real impact on the ground. Nordic and UK pension funds are to invest billions in clean energy and climate initiatives. Greenland has joined the Paris Agreement.

News in Brief

  1. EU ministers adopt measures to tackle soaring energy bills
  2. EU takes Malta to court over golden passports
  3. EU to ban Russian products worth €7bn a year more
  4. Denmark: CIA did not warn of Nord Stream attack
  5. Drone sightings in the North Sea 'occurred over months'
  6. Gazprom threatens to cut gas deliveries to Europe via Ukraine
  7. New compromise over EU energy emergency measures
  8. 15 states push for EU-wide gas price cap

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The European Association for Storage of EnergyRegister for the Energy Storage Global Conference, held in Brussels on 11-13 Oct.
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  3. European Committee of the RegionsThe 20th edition of EURegionsWeek is ready to take off. Save your spot in Brussels.
  4. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries

Latest News

  1. Editor's weekly digest: A week of leaks
  2. Putin declares holy war on Western 'satanism'
  3. Two elections and 'Macron's club' in focus Next WEEK
  4. EU agrees windfall energy firm tax — but split on gas-price cap
  5. Ukrainian chess prodigy: 'We are not going to resign ... anywhere'
  6. Going Down Under — EU needs to finish trade deal with Australia
  7. MEPs worry Russian disinfo weakens support for Ukraine
  8. Everything you need to know about the EU gas price cap plan

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us