De Jong: lobby transparency in European Parliament comes a step closer

6 February 2016

De Jong: lobby transparency in European Parliament comes a step closer

At the urging of SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong, European Parliament Secretary General Klaus Welle this week promised to enable MEPs who are writing reports to place up-to-date lists of appointments with lobbyists on the EP website. “This is a breakthrough,” says De Jong. “Naming the lobbyists who have had an important influence on a report will make for greater transparency in the European Parliament. But it mustn’t stop at that. Not only rapporteurs but all MEPs must have the chance to publish their most important meetings with lobbyists.”

Keeping an eye on the influence of lobbyists on legislation, or on what’s called the legislative footprint, has been on the agenda of the European Parliament for some time. In 2008, 2011 and 2014, the EP called for the introduction of such a ‘legislative footprint’. This would make it clearer precisely which lobbyists have had an important influence on MEPs’ reports. In the European Parliament, where thousands of lobbyists are active, their influence should be made visible to all of the public in Europe.

The ‘legislative footprint’ and the soon to be obligatory transparency register could be mutually reinforcing, as De Jong explains: “The transparency register is important because the European Commission says that it is only willing to do business with registered lobbyists. And only registered lobbyists get an access card to the EP, making it easier for them to enter the buildings. In the register lobbyists not only have to say who they are and who they work for, but also keep an up to date record of the matters on which they are active. For some time this information has been neither up-to-date nor complete. If on the EP site Euro-MPs declare that they have worked intensively with certain lobbyists on an issue, that should also be evident from the transparency register. If not, then the Commission can call the lobbyists in question to account and have them fill in the register at once. In this way, step-by-step, we can put pressure on the back-room politics of Brussels.”

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