Madrid – This Wednesday, Vice-President Timmermans, responsible for transparency and better regulation, challenged the European Parliament and Council to follow the Commission’s lead on lobby transparency. The statement was made after the college of Commissioners debated Jean Claude Juncker’s promised to proactively publish information about meetings with lobbyists.

The European Commission has announced that, as of 1 December 2014, EU Commissioners, all cabinet staff and high level officials such as Directors General will implement a series of initiatives which, according to Vice President Timmermans, include “full transparency” on Commissioners’ agendas and proactive publication of lobby information so that citizens can follow what interests are represented in meetings with Commissioners.

Timmermans also promised that the Commission would make sure that they only met with lobbyists that are registered in the EU Commission and Parliament’s Transparency Register, a measure which ALTER-EU and Access Info (which is a steering committee member), had been calling for in order to improve the effectiveness of the current EU lobby register, which to date is still voluntary.

Highlighting the importance of this transparency initiative, Timmermans stated that “We have moved from a time where government used to have as attitude towards the public of ‘trust me’… to a situation now where the public says to government ‘show me’; and we want to show, very clearly, what we are doing, we want to be fully transparent about the meetings we have, and we want to be accountable for everything we do in the Commission”.

The college of Commissioners also spoke specifically about transparency in the TTIP negotiations, and discussed allowing all MEPs to access the TTIP documents in the “reading room”, instead of only those most closely involved. Texts that have been shared with Member States are also likely to be made public, pending the College’s formal decision next week.

Access Info’s EU Transparency Campaigner Pam Bartlett Quintanilla stated that “The European Commission seems to finally be taking transparency matters seriously, and we welcome the fact that it is taking the lead in the face of the European Parliament and the European Council, which has not even joined the Transparency Register. However, Timmermans’ emphasis on transparency at the “political” level could mean that much decision-making and lobbying at the “technical” level is left in the shadows.” The formal decision is due to be taken by the college of Commissioners next week, when we expect to know more details about the periodicity of the reporting on lobby contacts and the scope of the contacts covered.

Click here to watch the full interventions here from Commissioners Timmermans and Malstrom and lobbying and TTIP transparency (19/11/2014).

For more information, please contact:

Pam Bartlett Quintanilla | Access Info Europe +34 913 656 558