The European Parliament’s Conference of Presidents has today adopted the Parliament’s mandate to begin negotiations on the new Transparency Register for lobbyists with the European Commission and the European Council. Conservatives (EPP), Social-Democrats (S&D) and Liberals rejected any obligatory lobby transparency inside Parliament as Greens/EFA had demanded. The mandate, which was only made public through a leak, was negotiated in a “Contact Group” composed of all political groups which met behind closed doors. While some NGOs were invited to a meeting, upon the insistence of the Greens/EFA group, they did not receive a copy of the mandate.
In September Parliament will vote on Sven Giegold’s report on “Transparency, Accountability and Integrity in the EU Institutions”. The Greens/EFA Group will then try again to enforce binding rules for dealing with lobbyists.
Sven Giegold, rapporteur on transparency, accountability and integrity in the EU institutions, comments:
The other groups in the European Parliament have double standards when it comes to transparency. They call for stricter rules for the European Commission, but are not willing to bring their own house in order by committing themselves to convincing transparency rules. It is politically irresponsible to refuse the demand for more transparency. MEPs should only meet with lobbyists who have entered the lobby register just as Commissioners and their closest staff.
The other groups are missing a great opportunity to counteract the impression of European citizens that politics in Brussels is conducted behind closed doors. This will not strengthen confidence in European policy making. Representation of interests is legitimate and necessary, but must be made transparent as citizens are rightly concerned about disproportional influence of financially powerful interests.
A commitment to lobby transparency would have been a strong signal to all citizens. Citizens have a right to know which lobbyists politicians have met in the process of law making. Regrettably, such a binding legislative footprint has been rejected by conservatives, social-democrats and liberals.
The adversaries of mandatory lobby transparency will use the protection of their free mandate as a fig leaf. But lobby transparency does not jeopardize the free mandate of MEPs. On the contrary, it protects their ability to act in the public interest. It is particularly frustrating that lawyers will continue to be able to abuse professional secrecy rules that were introduced for court proceedings to lobby in secret.
If the European Parliament demands a lot from others in the negotiations, but offers nothing in return, the negotiations will not work. The unambitious mandate is a burden for those who will negotiate with the Commission and the Member States.”
This draft mandate was adopted as leaked by Politico: http://g8fip1kplyr33r3krz5b97d1.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/602260-OR-PLUS_EN-copy.pdf
Green legal opinion on transparency obligations and the free mandate by law professor Alberto Alemanno: https://extranet.greens-efa.eu/public/media/file/7284/5204
Parliament’s press release representing the blocking majority: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20170615IPR77523/more-lobby-transparency-to-foster-public-trust-in-eu-institutions