More lobby transparency to foster public trust in EU institutions
Negotiations between MEPs, the Commission and Council on a mandatory Transparency Register for EU lobbyists have been given the go-ahead.
The mandate for negotiations on the register was approved by the European Parliament Conference of Presidents (EP President and political group leaders) on Thursday.
The proposed new inter-institutional agreement aims to enhance the transparency of the work of interest representatives at the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council of the European Union, in order to increase public trust in the EU decision-making process. Parliament’s mandate sets out several goals for the upcoming negotiations with the other EU institutions. The text seeks to:
- get the Council to join the Transparency Register,
- ensure legal certainty and clarity; Parliament reiterates its preference for legislation that would be binding upon interest representatives,
- maintain a wider definition of lobbying, covering both direct and indirect representation (as with the current system), as well as seeking clarity on exemptions,
- respect each institution’s roles and structures,
- ensure respect for MEPs’ independent mandate,
- improve the precision and better quality of Transparency Register data, to allow for better reliability and comparability, and
- provide sufficient resources (human, administrative, technical and financial) for the effective functioning of the scheme.
“Despite unfortunate procedural delays, unrelated to the content of the text and the work of our Contact Group, I very much welcome the decision of the Conference of Presidents to finally back our proposal. Transparency issues are a sensitive topic, which is not approached in the same way in the European Parliament. But there is a strong will to go forward, in order to achieve new progress. Parliament’s policy of openness is the approach we want to adopt during the future negotiations”, said Ms Sylvie Guillaume (S&D, FR).
“The European Parliament has always been a leader in the debate on transparency. Now is the time for all EU institutions to demonstrate unity in their approach. We should enhance our joint Transparency Register and make it more comprehensive. All European institutions should demonstrate that they are open and close to the citizens”, said Ms Danuta Hübner (EPP, PL).
Parliament also wants the proposed new inter-institutional agreement on a mandatory Transparency Register to be open to other institutional actors who want to be part of it on a voluntary basis, such as agencies or EU countries’ permanent representations. MEPs underline that the new agreement should improve the accountability of EU and its institutions to citizens.
Now that the Conference of Presidents has approved the mandate, Parliament’s representatives can enter into inter-institutional negotiations with the Commission and the Council to shape the final version of the new EU transparency rules for lobbyists.
On 28 September 2016, the European Commission presented a draft inter-institutional agreement on a mandatory Transparency Register for lobbyists covering the European Parliament, European Commission and the Council of the European Union. This proposal aims to ensure greater transparency of lobbying activities across the three main EU institutions, building on the existing Transparency Register agreed between the Parliament and the Commission (a new version of which was recently presented). Parliament’s Conference of Presidents subsequently decided to nominate Vice-President Sylvie Guillaume (S&D, FR) and Chair of Parliament’s Constitutional Affairs Committee Danuta Hübner (EPP, PL) as its lead negotiators for this file.