New measures to encourage lobbyists to sign the EU Transparency Register
Measures to encourage lobbyists working with the EU institutions to sign the EU’s public Transparency Register were backed by Parliament on Tuesday. MEPs also called again for the register to be made compulsory and approved new provisions to push interest groups to make their links with the EU clearer.
Roberto Gualtieri (S&D, IT), responsible for Parliament's decision on updating the register, said during Monday's debate: "To avoid that the strength of a few outweighs the interests of many, the activities of interest groups (...) should be transparent and follow strict rules. These changes (...) represent a step forward in this direction, although partial, (...) with respect to Parliament's request to establish a mandatory register."
The decision was approved by 646 votes to 7, with 14 abstentions.
To date, an estimated 75% of all relevant business-related organisations and approximately 60% of NGOs operating in Brussels have signed the register. Parliament asked the European Commission to table a proposal, by the end of 2016, to make the register mandatory.
MEPs called for the following incentive measures to encourage lobbyists to sign the register:
- encourage EP staff and MEPs, when approached by a lobbying firm that has not registered, to urge it to do so before meeting its representative;
- restrict access to EP premises for non-registered organisations;
- facilitate authorisation to organise or co-host events on EP premises for registered lobbyists;
- facilitate transmission of information, including through specific mailing lists, for registered lobbyists;
- allow participation of registered lobbyists as speakers in committee hearings
- restrict the EP's patronage of events to registered lobbyists.
Parliament also asks the Commission to adopt similar measures.
Parliament wants a more detailed definition of "inappropriate behaviour" than the one laid down in the code of conduct attached to the Register and calls for full disclosure of the identity of all clients represented by each registered organisation.
Background and next steps
The current register was set up jointly by Parliament and the Commission in 2011. Parliament has always wanted the register to be compulsory, but it has proved difficult to find a suitable legal basis for this in the EU Treaty. These measures will be implemented internally by Parliament.