Three parties back SP call to shun unregistered lobbyists

24 May 2009

Three parties back SP call to shun unregistered lobbyists

Candidates of the SP, Labour Party (PvdA), Green Left and the Animals' Party (PvdD) will, if and when they are elected Members of the European Parliament, refuse to meet with lobbyists who have failed to register. SP number one candidate Dennis de Jong asked his counterparts from the eight biggest Dutch parties if they would simply sign a declaration to that effect. Every one of the right-wing and centre-right parties refused to do so.

The refusal by candidate Barry Madlener of the Freedom Party (PVV) is particularly striking. The PVV, the most right-wing party in the Dutch parliament, presents itself as a party which will wipe the floor with the established order in Brussels. The other parties of right and centre-right, the ruling Christian Democrats, the free marketeers of the VVD, the centrist liberals of D66 and the two small Christian parties also apparently have no problem in welcoming the representatives of this established order, even those who, in the role of lobbyists, promote the interests of the world's biggest corporations. There is, it seems, nothing whatsoever wrong with taking decisions out of the public eye, as long as nothing is done to interfere with the influence exerted by major corporations on political decision-making.

The European Union has, for the last eighteen months, had in place a registration system for lobbying organisations. Unfortunately, registration is voluntary. What happens, therefore, is that only lobbyists with nothing to hide ever register. Consequently, upwards of 80 percent of the estimated 15,000 lobbyists in Brussels whose principal task is to engage with the European Parliament and European Commission remain unregistered. As the EU authorities will not make registration compulsory, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have it in their hands to exert pressure on these lobbyists by refusing to meet with anyone who does not comply with the existing system, which those from the SP, PvdA and Green Left already do. The PvdD, tipped to win a seat, is currently unrepresented in the European Parliament but has agreed to join colleagues from the three left-of-centre parties in pursuing such a course should the party enjoy success on June 4th.

Those signing the declaration to this effect understand by the term 'lobbyists' any organisations maintaining an office in Brussels, with the principal purpose of lobbying officials and MEPs. Representatives of social organisations from the Netherlands and other countries who visit the European Parliament in order to raise their concerns with MEPs are not included, unless they hire a lobbying organisation to represent their interests, in which case we will expect them to register. If approached by unregistered lobbyists, signatories to the declaration will ask the groups in question to register as a precondition of agreeing to a meeting.

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