Madrid/Paris, 17 June 2013 – Access Info has joined 10 civil society organisations from around the world in calls on the French parliament to adopt legislation which will introduce a mandatory register of lobbyists.

The calls for greater regulation of lobbying come as the French parliament (Assemblée Nationale) considers a draft law on control of conflicts of interest in the wake of a series of corruption scandals.

Civil society is urging that the so-called “Transparency Law” be broadened to include measures on registration of lobbyists. The text of the letter and list of the signing organisations can be found below.

Letter from Civil Society to French Parliamentarians:

The undersigned individuals, associations, and journalists, call on the French government and parliament to take the necessary steps to guarantee greater transparency of lobbying activities.

France has been rocked by a series of corruption and lobbying scandals recently which have lead to calls for tighter regulation of lobbying. The scandals include the “affaire Cahuzac” in which former Budget Minister Jérôme Cahuzac has been charged with tax fraud over a secret bank account

[1], revelations about how French pharmaceutical company Servier conducted lobbying over a weight loss drug alleged to have caused as many as 2,000 deaths [2], and exposures of close links between members of the “Parliamentarians Havana Cigar Fan Club” and lobbyists from the British American Tabacco company [3].

The Laws Commission of the French Parliament (Assemblée nationale) has delegated the task of “defining the guidelines for relations with interest groups” to the future “High Authority for Transparency”. This is a first step, but the government and parliament should now seize this chance to require lobbying transparency and respect of ethical rules.

French decision makers seem to share this position: in a recent poll by TNS-Sofres [4], the majority of decision makers surveyed believed that private sector lobbying is not sufficiently transparent, and supported the creation of a mandatory register of lobbyists.

We call for the High Authority for Transparency to be charged with:

» developing a Code of Conduct which applies to all persons trying to influence public decision making;
» publishing a register in which all lobbyists will be required to register and to declare yearly their activities and expenditures.

A simple amendment, inspired by the provisions adopted in Quebec [5] and proposed to parliamentarians by civil society [6], is necessary to achieve these objectives. We call on the parliament to take action and to endow the High Authority for Transparency with these powers.

In the development of public decisions, all members of society should have their views taken into account on an equal basis. To ensure that this happens, the interaction between elected representatives and interest groups should be carried out in an ethical and transparent manner. It is high time that France imposes these requirements on lobby groups.

Signed by:

Access Info Europe, Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC), Africa Europe Faith and Justice Network (AEFJN), African Network of Constitutional Lawyers, AITEC (France), Amis de la Terre France, Anticor, Annick Redolfi, Craig Holman (Government affairs lobbyist, Public Citizen), Corporate Europe Observatory, Centre for Independent Journalism (Romania), Centre for Law and Democracy (Canada/global) Club JADE, Diritto di Sapere (Italy), Cyprus EU Association (KAB), Dwight E. Hines (IndyMedia), Formindep, Green Alternative (Georgia), Iraqi Journalists Rights Defense Association, Free Expression Associates (UK) Irène Frachon, Laurent Gahungu (ABDP-DRS), Obong Denis Udo-Inyang Foundation (Nigeria), Paul Maassen (Independent civil society coordination team on OGP), Petru Botnaru (freelance journalist, Moldova), Pierre Meneton, South African History Archives (SAHA) Sunlight Foundation (USA), Sylvie Gilman, Stéphane Horel, SmartGov (Parlement et citoyens), Regards Citoyens, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP, Nigeria),, Walter Keim (Netizen, Norway).

For more information on French transparency law, click here.




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