This article was originally published by ALTER-EU.
Madrid, 15 February 2016 – Lobbying is currently not regulated in Spain, and despite the entry into force of the new access to information law, it is still almost impossible for the public to find out who is influencing which decision-makers, with what means, and to what effect.
This is despite the eruption of new political parties, such as Podemos and Ciudadanos, which have helped to introduce into the political agenda issues of conflicts of interest caused by unregulated lobbying and the revolving door phenomenon.
The lack of regulation and transparency around lobbying has also been highlighted by civil society organisations, such as the Transparency International in their report “An institutional evaluation of lobbying in Spain: Analysis and Proposals”.
In the past legislature (2011-2015) some initiatives were proposed to regulate lobbying in Spain; the Government mentioned an intention to create an obligatory register of lobbyists – to cover only the upper and lower houses of Parliament, and several proposals were presented to parliament by different parties.
Despite lobbying regulation rising through public and political debate, no concrete regulatory proposals have yet been adopted.
Spain’s socialist party (PSOE), currently leading negotiations to form a coalition government, included the regulation of lobbying in its manifesto as part of its general election campaign in December 2015; however no concrete measures were specified. A proposal to regulate lobbying still remains on the table as part of any agreement to form a government.
There appears to be a favorable social and political context to the regulation of lobbying:
» In the last few years, corruption scandals which have monopolized the front pages of newspapers daily, has led citizens to actively demand greater transparency in decision-making processes.
» Most political parties included references and proposals to lobbying regulation in their election programs.
» At the subnational level, the implementation of Spain’s transparency law has led to a proliferation of local transparency laws which include lobbying regulation.
In any case, Access Info Europe notes three important points that should be incorporated into Spanish lobby legislation in order to ensure full transparency:
» Executive Branch should be included: Lobbyists target both legislative and executive branches and in Spain most laws adopted are presented by the government. It is important not to forget that lobbying can also serve to propose changes to policy or to prevent legislation from being drafted.
» Clear definitions needed: It is important to define who will be obliged to register and what information they will be required to publish. At minimum, the names of lobbyists, the specific interests they represent and the budget employed on lobbying activities should be published.
» Proactive transparency: Public officials should proactively publish their upcoming agenda of meetings and also a record of the meetings held with lobbyists. They should also publish position papers submitted by lobbyists during ongoing decision-making processes.
Access Info will monitor the Spanish government’s progress in the area of lobbying transparency and will work with ALTER EU to campaign for a high-quality system of mandatory lobby transparency at both national and EU level.
For more information, please contact:
Alba Gutiérrez | Access Info Europe
Send an e-mail or call +34 913 656 558