Madrid/Brussels, 27 January 2015 – New research, published today, shows that the EU lobby register is failing to provide full transparency on lobbying as many financial lobbyists, major corporations, law firms and lobby consultancies that are actively working to influence EU law, are still not registered.
The research by the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU), which is led by a steering committee that includes Access Info, demonstrates that the current voluntary approach to lobby regulation does not provide full transparency of lobbying in Brussels. In addition, the European Commission’s current proposal to enact a new lobby register through another inter-institutional agreement will not actually be legally binding on lobbyists.
In ALTER-EU’s analysis, the changes being introduced are minimal and will not solve the register’s fundamental problems such as improving the accuracy of the information it contains.
The report, “New and improved? Why the EU lobby register still fails to deliver” is published on the same day as the re-launch of the Commission-Parliament joint lobby transparency register, and it shows that too many register entries are based on unreliable or even misleading data. Some examples include:
» Goldman Sachs declares less than €50,000 lobby expenditure in 2013 whilst spending significantly more than that paying others to lobby on its behalf during the same period. This has now been the subject of a complaint by NGOs to the EU lobby register secretariat.
» Around 150 lobby consultancies, law firms or consultants fail to disclose their clients’ names despite this being a clear breach of the rules.
» Google and Novartis list more European Parliament accredited pass-holders than their total number of lobbyists which cannot be correct, according to the register rules.
» More than 200 lobby consultancies, law firms or consultants mask their clients’ identities by naming them only as acronyms, which is another breach of the rules.
There are many other anomalous entries detailed in the report.
Helen Darbishire, of steering committee member Access Info Europe says: “Campaigners, journalists, and all EU citizens have a right to know who is lobbying our decision-makers, on which dossiers, and how much money they spend on lobbying. Full transparency is essential for getting a true picture of lobbying in Brussels and for ensuring balanced input of the views of all stakeholders.”
Paul de Clerck of ALTER EU steering committee member Friends of the Earth Europe says: “The Commission’s proposed inter-institutional agreement to introduce a so-called mandatory lobby register is misleading, as it will not be binding on lobbyists and thus not be mandatory. What is needed is a legislative proposal, to ensure that lobbyists are legally obliged to be fully open and honest about all their lobbying activities and to ensure that strong sanctions can be applied in case of breaches of the register.”
Nina Katzemich of steering committee member LobbyControl added that: “Even with the relaunched register, lobbyists can still choose if they want to be be transparent, and they can still appear in the register with totally misleading data. This is what happened for example in the case of Goldman Sachs, whose registration is subject to a complaint by LobbyControl, Corporate Europe Observatory and Friends of the Earth Europe that was filed today.”
The European Parliament has long demanded a tougher approach to EU lobby regulation. ALTER-EU calls on the European Commission to produce a legislative proposal for a legally-binding lobby register by the end of 2015, with the aim of the new Transparency Register being operational by mid-2017.
For more information, please contact:
Helen Darbishire | Access Info Europe
firstname.lastname@example.org +34 667 685 319
Paul de Clerck | Friends of the Earth Europe
email@example.com +32(0)494 380959
Nina Katzemich | LobbyControl
firstname.lastname@example.org +49 (0)179 5093022