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Lobby Register



European civil society groups set the standard for EU lobbying transparency

Civil society, transparency and consumer groups present guidelines for Commission lobby register

Brussels, 30 October 2008 – European civil society, transparency and consumer groups have today raised the bar for EU transparency rules by presenting a new set of guidelines that goes well beyond the weak and unclear requirements of the European Commission’s voluntary lobby register.

Public interest organisations call on the Commission to review its flawed register and urge all interest groups to adopt the guidelines to ensure greater transparency. The main measures the new guidelines recommend are:
- the disclosure of the names of individual lobbyists and the issues they lobby on,
- a clear and wide definition of lobbying activities enabling an accurate calculation of lobbying expenditure.

“Registering under these guidelines sets a constructive example of what the Commission must improve. We’re putting forward a clear proposal and calling on the Commission to review its flawed register accordingly,” said Fintan Farrell from the EU Civil Society Contact Group.

The guidelines, primarily devised for organisations that will sign up under the register’s NGO category, should apply to all EU lobbyists. They reflect in-depth discussions between public interest organisations and international lobby transparency experts. They also take into account existing lobby disclosure legislation in the United States of America.

“The fact that we’ve had to come up with these guidelines at all is a clear sign that the Commission register as it is today is a failure. As things stand, even if every interest group in Brussels signed up to the register tomorrow, this would not ensure real transparency. A lobby register without the names of lobbyists is as useful as a phone book without numbers,” said Jorgo Riss from Alter-EU, the Alliance for lobbying transparency.

The voluntary lobby register put forward by the Commission in June has a number of major flaws which include:
- no revelation of the names of individual lobbyists – and the issues they work on –, which seriously limits the possibility of exposure of scandals such as revolving doors and conflicts of interest, while perpetuating the confusion over the number of lobbyists active in Brussels,
- unclear rules on financial disclosure which favour corporate lobbyists (for example, interest groups and consultancies can present financial data using different methods, making it impossible to compile and compare information).

“A strong register is in the interest of democracy and European citizens, who want to know who the real players in Brussels are, particularly at a time when the EU is struggling to gain the trust of Europeans,” said Monique Goyens of BEUC, the European Consumers Organisation.

Find the Civil Society Contact Group and ALTER-EU guidelines on "How to make a a transparent registration in the European Commission Register of Interest Representatives" here.

Media queries:
Mark Breddy – +32 (0)2 274 19 03, +32 (0)496 15 62 29,

Contacts:
Fintan Farrell – EU Civil Society Contact Group: +32 (0)474 797934 (mob.), +32 (0)2 226 5850,
Jorgo Riss – ALTER-EU: +32 (0)496 12 21 09 (mob.), +32 (0)2 27 419 07,
Monique Goyens – BEUC: +32 (0)2 743 15 90,