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Lobby Transparency

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Meeting of EU Presidents. Source: European Union 2015, EU Parliament

Lobby Transparency

70 percent of EU citizens believe the EU institutions to be corrupt. With no mandatory lobby register in the EU, financial and corporate lobbyists have unregulated access to influence EU decision-makers. Transparency is a requisite to enable participation in decision-making processes.

Democracy International is running a petition calling for a strong EU law to control lobbying, to reinforce transparency and to ensure accountability and a forceful code of conduct in the EU institutions.


Corruption in the EU

Lobby transparency in the EU has major weaknesses. It is not mandatory for lobbyists to register and there is no transparency regarding who the EU's lobbyists are, how much money they spend on lobbying, nor which public officials are making vested promises to them. 

The European Commission’s first anti-corruption report from 2014 estimates the losses to the European economy caused by corruption and bribery to be at around 120 billion Euros per year. It is widely expected that this figure is much higher. Approximately 30,000 lobbyists in Brussels try to influence EU politics.

EU measures against corruption

The Juncker Commission has taken steps to increase EU lobby transparency. These measures include the banning of the most senior Commission representatives from holding meetings with unregistered lobbyists and to introduce a waiting period of 12-18 months for politicians who retire from their public office and take up an industry job. 

However, the proposed inter-institutional agreement on transparency is very weak and will not change the fact that lobbying threatens our democracy.

Towards a new EU transparency law

Democracy International calls for a new EU transparency law that includes a mandatory lobby transparency register. Together with a broad alliance pioneered by the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU), Democracy International is invested in defining what the transparency rules ought to look like and how the influence of lobbying can become more transparent. Read the open letter sent by ALTER-EU, together with Democray International and over 100 NGOs, to the Commission demanding a legally binding lobby register, here.

Campaign by Democracy International

In its recent campaign, Democracy International gathered new suggestions from the public on how to curb lobbying and ensure transparency in Europe. Democracy International then handed over the 1,965 proposals to Sven Giegold, the European Parliament's rapporteur in the “Report on Transparency, Integrity and Accountability”. Read an analysis of the suggestions here. Democracy International will continue to put pressure on the European Parliament and Commission for a strong proposal on how to control lobbying and strengthen accountability of the EU institutions.

Democracy International is convinced that economic and political power must be separated. Only with more transparency will it be visible who influences the decisions that come out of Brussels and that shape citizens' daily lives. Clandestine lobbying is a threat to our democracy.


External links:

European Commission Anti-Corruption Report 2014

Voluntary EU transparency register

Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (Alter-EU)


Sven Giegold, Member of European Parliament and Cora Pfafferott, representing Democracy International
On 25 August 2015, Democracy International handed over to Sven Giegold, Member of the European Parliament, people’s suggestions for how to end...
Poster of Clean-Lobbying-Event in Brussels on 3 September 2015
On 3rd September 2015, EU politicians, NGOS and practitioners came together in Brussels on the occasion of a conference to discuss how the EU can...
Stop lobby transparency now
113 non-governmental organisations and trade unions, including Democracy International, have urged European Commission Vice President Frans...

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