LOBBY MEETINGS WITH EU POLICY-MAKERS DOMINATED BY CORPORATE INTERESTS WHILST CROATIA STILL LACKS A LEGAL FRAMEWORK FOR TRANSPARENT LOBBYING

Transparency International launched a new lobby monitoring tool for Brussels lobbying which reveals that corporate interests dominate lobby meetings with EU policy-makers. All relevant information is published at www.integritiwatch.eu which also monitors the integrity of representatives in the European Parliament.  

This tool provides a one-stop shop for information published by the European Commission on meetings with lobbyists and data from the EU Transparency Register (the Register of Brussels lobbyists). In the past six months, since December 2014 to June 2015, an analysis of 4318 lobby meetings revealed that 75% of lobby meetings were with corporate interests, 18% with NGOs, 4% with think tanks and only 2% with local authorities.  

Companies with the biggest annual lobby budgets such as Microsoft and Shell have the most number of meetings and easier access to EU policy-makers. The portfolios for Climate & Energy (487 meetings), Jobs & Growth (398), Digital Economy (366) and Financial Markets (295) currently receive most attention from lobbyists advocating corporate interests. Some portfolios such and Health and Education are mostly accessible to NGOs and Think Tanks.

The data also reveals that at the time of publication, 80% of the 7888 organisations currently registered did not have a single meeting with a Commissioner or their teams, demonstrating the limitations of the European Commission’s new transparency measures introduced at the end of 2014 that only cover the top 1% of highest ranking EU officials and only 300 of the more than 30,000 officials working at the European Commission.  

It is necessary to increase the quality of data in the EU Transparency Register as TI analysis has confirmed that many organisations are actively lobbying even though they are not in the EU Transparency Register since registration is voluntary. It is interesting to note that of the 20 biggest law firms in the world that have offices in Brussels, 14 of them are not registered in the EU Transparency Register. Furthermore, much of the information which is entered into the EU Transparency Register is either inaccurate or incomplete.      

In order to improve the level of transparency and integrity in EU lobbying, TI proposes ensuring equal access for all interested lobbyists with the following measures: Firstly, that registration becomes mandatory for lobbyists with all the accompanying rights, obligations and sanctions and secondly, to introduce a Legislative Footprint as a public record of lobbyists’ influence on a piece of legislation or public decision and that it also be applied to lower ranked officials in accordance with the detailed TI proposals.   

These figures show that it is imperative to regulate lobbying in Croatia because in this respect, Croatia is lagging behind the best practices of the European Union. We should recall that the first European Anti-Corruption Report published in February 2014 showed a lack of both transparency and legal regulations in this area. The Croatian public is also interested in knowing whose interests dominate when policies are created and political decisions made from the national level down to the local levels. A transparent register of lobbyists is a move in the right direction’ said Davorka Budimir, President Transparency International Croatia.

Complete details and the full Report can be found at the following websites:

www.integriywatch.eu and www.transparencyinternational.eu.

Media Contact: Transparency International Croatia Office: 385 + 91 223 2 011, mediji@transparency.hr

 

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