Latest attempts to tackle Brussels lobbying practices 'barely half a step forward'

8 May 2008

Latest attempts to tackle Brussels lobbying practices 'barely half a step forward'

‘It's a pity that the rules adopted today won't really do anything about the undesirable practices of Brussels lobbyists. Okay, we voted for the proposals, but only because doing nothing would have been even worse. The European Parliament's decision on this, however, means at best half a step forward.'

This sums up the reaction of the SP's Euro-MPs, Erik Meijer and Kartika Liotard. The two gave their support to the report from Finnish centre-right MEP Alexander Stubb. The measures Stubb proposed do not, the SP believes, go nearly far enough and will do little to curb the undue influence of the Brussels lobby circuit. The ten amendments proposed by the SP's political group, the United European Left (GUE-NGL), together with the Greens, were all voted down. The proposals would have led to the establishment of a single centralised register of lobbyists, who would be obliged to be open about their financing and goals, with exposure as a sanction for unethical behaviour, clarification on the question of the European Commission's 'special advisors', and a ban on European officials' accepting positions as paid lobbyists during leave periods.

Motor industry

"I really woke up to how big and how tenacious the lobbying industry is when we were dealing with the European standards for CO2 emissions from private cars," says Liotard. "On the very day that it was decided that I would take the dossier on behalf of my political group, my mailbox filled up with a flood of requests for appointments and offers of 'advice' regarding amendments which I should propose. Lobbyists from the auto industry would repeatedly turn up at my office and march in in an attempt to persuade me that the requirements for CO2 emission levels should be as undemanding as possible. Their activities achieved little as far as I was concerned other than irritation. It made it really clear just how great the pressure on an elected representative can be."

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