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Lobbying: EU Transparency Register

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Widespread lobbying in the EU institutions has led to criticism regarding the transparency and accountability of the EU’s decision-making process. In response to these concerns, the Parliament set up its transparency register in 1995, followed by the Commission in 2008. The two institutions merged their instruments in a joint European Transparency Register (TR) in 2011 on the basis of an Interinstitutional Agreement (IIA). So far, the Council has remained only an observer to the system.

The Transparency Register is a voluntary system of registration for entities seeking to directly or indirectly influence the EU decision-making process. It has grown at a rate of around 1 000 organisations a year, to reach over 9 000 organisations today. While it is very difficult to make estimates on the actual coverage of the register, an academic study in 2013 already found the register to cover 60-75% of lobbying organisations active at EU level. In line with the IIA, a political review of the system took place in 2013-2014. As a result, a new improved registration system was introduced in January 2015.

Parliament has been calling for a mandatory register for lobbyists interacting with the EU institutions since 2008. It has argued that a mandatory register would ensure better standards for lobbying and more transparency. The topic has become increasingly prominent, especially since Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker put the issue on the political agenda, committing to introduce a proposal for a mandatory system by end 2016, as requested by Parliament. Furthermore, from 1 December 2014 onwards, the Commission publishes information on meetings of Commissioners, members of their cabinets and Directors-General with lobbyists. It is currently running a public consultation on the proposal for a mandatory register.

Laws in Member States on lobbying regulation vary. Mandatory registration systems exist in only a few countries, with the most recent law being introduced in Ireland.

Source: EPTT

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