Halfhearted decision from European Parliament on transparency register

15 April 2014

Halfhearted decision from European Parliament on transparency register

The European Parliament today voted on the evaluation of the transparency register, which lobbyists are supposed to use to be open about any business which involves the European Commission or the European Parliament. ‘As things stand the register is voluntary,’ says SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong. ‘The European Parliament has in the past expressed support for an obligatory register, but although it continues to claim to be a supporter of such, all of the proposals to realise this were today rejected. This is therefore a missed opportunity. Only in 2017 will the register be once again evaluated and until then we will be lumbered with a half-baked instrument.’

Dennis de JongIn the SP’s view the best way to give the register more teeth would be to forbid EU officials from maintaining any contact with unregistered lobbyists. ‘My proposal quickly to institute this did not carry,’ De Jong lamented. ‘The Parliament did call on the Commission to discourage officials from going to meetings with such lobbyists, but this is much too informal. Evidently most of the political groups think it’s fine for unregistered lobbyists to simply carry on with their work when it comes to EU officials.’

At last the lobby register will, however, be required to make it clear which lobbyists have had an influence on European legislation. Both the Commission and the Parliament will have to clarify this in the legislative documents. ‘For years I’ve been asking the Parliament’s president, Martin Schulz, to develop a form on which Members who are writing a report on a legislative proposal can declare which lobbyists they have had contact with. I would rather that this had been made obligatory, but such a form is at least a small step in the right direction. By comparing the information from these forms with that given in the register, in which lobbyists must record the legislative proposals on which they have lobbied, you will quickly be able to assess whether the register is up to date and complete, as well as whether the Parliament’s rapporteur has been honest about his or her contacts with lobbyists.’

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