Sven Giegold

Transparency report: Conservatives want to harm civil society and protect intransparent lobbyism

On Thursday the Giegold-report on “Transparency, accountability and integrity in the EU institutions” will be voted by the European Parliament, after a nearly unanimous vote in the constitutional affairs committee (AFCO). Today, the Conservative Group EPP has tabled a large number of amendments that would weaken the report in many respects. The rapporteur and economic and financial policy spokesperson of the Greens/EFA group commented:


“The Christian-Democrats put the ax on European civil society. The Christian-Democrats want organizations that fail a new thought-police to be cut off EU funding. Such a government agency is supposed to evaluate whether the organizations argue on the basis of verifiable facts and tell the truth. Such an approach would have a chilling effect on civil society and would be more in keeping with Russia, Cuba or Venezuela than with European standards of democracy. This is unworthy of our democracy in Europe.

In addition to the democratically harmful amendments on the financing of civil society, the Christian-Democrats want to significantly weaken other parts of the report: according to the will of the Christian-Democrats, the Transparency Register should not apply equally to all lobbyists. Lawyers should be able to lobby behind their professional rights to secrecy. Unregistered independent lobbyists should continue to have access to the European Parliament. EU Commission officials should also be exempted by the Christian-Democrats from lobby transparency rules. Despite all the transparency scandals around TTIP and CETA, the Christian-Democrats even want to undo the partial success on access to TTIP documents. They want to continue with intransparent lobby meetings of Commission staff who negotiate trade agreements. All in all, these amendments are another democratic disgrace. Christian Democrats want to harm civil society and at the same time protect intransparent lobbyism. I call on all members to vote against these amendments.



The complete draft report as adopted by the Constitutional Affairs Committee:


The Christian-Democrat amendments:


Summary of the Christian-Democrat amendments:


Anti-NGO funding by EU (alike CONT Pieper report)

  • Add new §§ similar to a draft-report by CDU MEP Pieper in CONT on making EU funding for NGOs more difficult, including:
    • (New) 44 a. Calls for the EU public procurement directives to be amended for political active organisations in such a way that organisations are eligible for funding only if they argue by means of verifiable facts; calls for recipients, before they receive funding, to give a corresponding undertaking and for the Commission and Court of Auditors to conduct appropriate random checks; rejects any funding of organisations which demonstrably disseminate untruths and/or whose objectives are contrary to the fundamental values and/or policy objectives of the European Union;
    • (New) 53 a. Urges the Commission, in parallel with the revision of the Financial Regulation, to consider the introduction of an EU-wide code of conduct also for NGOs and lobbyists applying for EU funding; points out that this code of conduct would provide guidance to NGOs on how to comply with legal and transparency obligations, sound financial management and an appropriate use of resources; calls on the Commission to establish simplified procedures for small NGOs to ensure a level playing field in the application procedures;
    • (New) 45 a. Calls on the Commission to present an opinion by 1 February 2018 on whether and to which extent and – where applicable – by which criteria outcome agreements with the aim of influencing politicians and governments are developed  with NGOs receiving EU funding;


Commission’s Code of Conduct

  • Weaken §30 now calling for 3 years cooling-off for all former Commissioners by replacing with welcoming the Commission’s proposal (3 years for former presidents, 2 years for all other formal Commissioners)
  • Delete §31: decisions on new jobs of former Commissioners and senior Commission staff to be taken independent of those who are affected instead of the present ethics committee hand picked by Commission
  • Delete §32: annual report by Commission on where senior Commission staff leaves to (which mostly reflects the legal status quo according to EU staff regulations)

Lobby transparency

  • Delete part of §1: voluntary legislative footprint as IT tool
  • Weaken §2: no call on MEPs to check if lobbyists are registered before they meet them, no inclusion of Secretary-Generals in “no registration no meeting”-rule
  • Delete §4: EP-Bureau to help MEPs publish their lobby meetings on MEPs’ online profiles
  • Weaken §6: no lobby transparency of policy-drafting Commission staff below Heads of Unit, including those who negotiate TTIP and CETA
  • Weaken §19: no entrance ban for lobbyists to the Parliament buildings, if they are self-employed
  • Weaken §27: replace obligation for MEP staff to learn how to deal with lobbyists with a weak encouragement formulation
  • Weaken §21’s 2nd part, effectively insisting on the restriction of not more than four lobbyists from the same entity entering the EP buildings


  • Weaken §8 by deleting the call for an online one-stop shop for all transparency and integrity-related information

Lawyers who lobby

  • Weaken §7: discount on duties of Law firms in the Transparency Register
  • Weaken §18: delete “substantial risk” of misuse of statutory provisions

Transparency Register funding

  • Weaken §23: instead of now “substantial” increase, only “proportional” increase, without saying proportional to what

Expert Groups minutes

  • Delete §37: Commission to publish expert group minutes including diversity of opinions

Access to documents incl Trilogues and trade

  • Weaken §45 referring to the already adopted Ferrara report (on access to documents), by deleting points on
    • independent oversight of (de)classification of documents
    • publication of Trilogue documents
    • publication of all documents from Parliament’s Bureau, Conference of Committee Chairs and Conference of Presidents (of political Groups)
  • Delete §48: safeguard transparency progress achieved on the TTIP negotiations, use this as minimum and model for all trade agreements
  • Delete §50’s 2nd part: full reciprocal transparency on trade agreements already while scoping and regarding negotiation mandates


  • Delete §39: consider minimum standards regarding disqualification of candidates in European elections due to corruption via an EU directive
  • Delete §64: Commission to list publicly companies debarred from EU procurement due to their corruption

Euro governance

  • Delete §57: revision of 6pack and 2pack for more Parliamentary scrutiny over key documents of the European Semester
  • Delete §58: Eurogroup to include Parliament for the monitoring of the ESM, implementation of contractual conditions

Whistleblower protection

  • Delete §59: Welcomes Ombudsman’s whistleblower rule investigation
  • Delete §62: Ombudsman as focal point for whistleblowers to find help


  • correct §7: registration-conditionality for speakers, patronage, hosting only within the scope of the Transparency Register
  • correct §21: bring back our text to the original intention to ease the reactivation process for lobby badges because present facilities are annoying without added value for transparency or accountability
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