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Maximum transparency must be negotiated if EU lobbyist register is to work

Lobbyists and independent organisations wishing to have access to influence the EU decision-making process must sign up to the Transparency Register under new proposals by the European Commission.

Previously, only the Parliament had a mandatory system in place. Today’s plans will widen the scope to include all three key EU institutions: the Commission, the Council as well as the Parliament.

All of them will be subjected to the same minimum standards. In addition, an Inter-institutional Agreement (IIA) has been proposed to ensure maximum transparency across the board which will be debated at next Wednesday’s plenary in Strasbourg.

German MEP Helmut Scholz and substitute at the Parliament’s Committee on Constitutional Affairs (AFCO), said:

“It is unfortunate that the Commission has failed to comply with the requirements stated by the Parliament back in April 2014 to have a legislative proposal for a mandatory transparency register in place by the end of 2016.”

“Today’s announcement is supposed to bind the three key EU institutions – intentionally or unintentionally – in a power game between the Commission, Parliament and Council.”

“But this approach prevents the Commission from tackling the roots of the problem. They have missed a golden opportunity to make these channels of access by lobbyists completely transparent.”

“Even if these proposals were adopted by the Council, it’s still ‘business as usual' towards the powerful lobbyists so whatever triumphs the Commission may present today are somewhat hollow,” said Scholz

For Dennis De Jong MEP, co-president in the Parliament’s intergroup on Integrity, Transparency, Corruption and Organised crime (ITCO), such mandatory proposals are a step in the right direction:

“In principle, I welcome the proposal for a mandatory Transparency Register.”

“It is of crucial importance that we receive reliable information on lobbyists and that we can properly supervise the quality of this information. Lobbyists who give incomplete or false information must be removed from the register. In cases of fraud and criminal activities, sanctions must be imposed.”

“In addition, the negotiations about the new proposal should be done in a transparent way and must include all the EU institutions involved,” added the Dutch MEP.