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European Parliament’s constitutional affairs committee: Major breakthrough on lobby transparency


Today the European Parliament’s Constitutional Affairs Committee (AFCO) adopted for the first time binding rules on lobbying transparency for MEPs. In a hard-fought and tight vote, British Socialist Richard Corbett’s compromise proposal won (11 in favour, 10 against). It is based on a Green amendment and the resolution on transparency, accountability and integrity in the EU institutions adopted by the European Parliament in 2017 and drafted by Sven Giegold. Thousands of citizens had taken part in collections of ideas and petitions to overcome blockades.

The report on the reform of Parliament’s Rules of Procedure adopted today is expected to be presented in plenary in January 2019. Each amendment requires a majority of all MEPs elected, not only of those present during the vote, an unusually high hurdle. The vote also influences the negotiations on improving the EU transparency register for lobbyists. These negotiations between the Commission, Parliament and Council had come to a standstill because the Commission only wanted to continue negotiating if the Parliament, like the Commission itself, agrees with binding, not just voluntary rules for lobby transparency.

The AFCO committee also voted to add a section to MEPs websites where they can upload documents confirming that they use the General Expenditure Allowance correctly. While this transparency of the GEA spending remains voluntary, the easy comparison on MEP’s web profiles will allow peer pressure towards transparency.

On the vote, MEP Sven Giegold, the European Parliament’s rapporteur for transparency, accountability and integrity in the EU institutions, comments:

„This decision is a breakthrough for binding lobby transparency of MEPs. For the first time ever, the European Parliament can adopt now binding rules for transparency of lobby influences. The mandatory legislative footprint allows citizens clarity who influenced their representatives when drafting EU laws. This is a milestone for European Democracy. In times of populists attacking the EU, this decision can bring about more trust in the European Parliament ahead of the elections next year. Soon in Plenary, all MEPs will have to take a personal stance if they want allow citizens this transparency of lobbying in the Parliament.

The EU Commission, led by Vice-President and Social-Democrat leading candidate Frans Timmermans, has backed the Green amendments and contributed to today’s success. Frans Timmermans should now make it clear that the obligation for decision-makers in Parliament to disclose their meetings with lobbyists is a sufficient basis to resume negotiations for a stronger EU lobby register.“

BACKGROUND: the adopted compromise on Rule 11 – paragraph 2a (new)

“Members should publish online all scheduled meetings with interest representatives falling under the scope of the Transparency register. Rapporteurs, shadow rapporteurs and committee chairs shall, for each report, publish online all scheduled meetings with interest representatives falling under the scope of the Transparency register. The Bureau shall provide for necessary infrastructure on Parliament’s website.”

BACKGROUND: European Parliament resolution of 14 September 2017 on transparency, accountability and integrity in the EU institutions (“Giegold-report”)

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+TA+P8-TA-2017-0358+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN

The European Parliament…

  • 4. Believes that rapporteurs, shadow rapporteurs and committee chairs should publish their meetings with interest representatives falling under the scope of the Transparency Register regarding files under their responsibility through a legislative footprint and that any exceptions should protect the life and liberty of informants acting in good faith;
  • 11. Considers that, among the Members of the European Parliament, those appointed rapporteur, shadow rapporteur or committee chair have a special responsibility to be transparent about their contacts with interest representatives in view of their role in EU legislation;