Establishment of an inter-institutional common register of lobbyists

Diana Wallis:

“As Vice-President with specific responsibility for Transparency, and on behalf of the EP delegation to the High Level Working Group on the establishment of a common Register for Interest Representatives, which is made up of myself as chair, Carlo CasiniJo Leinen and Isabelle Durant, I am writing to inform you of the improvements we hope to make to the current lobby registers used by the Commission and the Parliament.

The Stubb-Friedrich report on this subject, adopted by Parliament in May 2008, originally called for a mandatory public register for lobbyists to be established, in connection with the work of the EU institutions. It also expressed the wish for a register common to the Council, Commission and Parliament. The whole point in these arrangements is to increase the public’s confidence in the way in which we deal with lobbyists, so that it is clear who is impacting on our deliberations.

To follow up on this, we are now working on proposals aimed at merging the respective registers for interest representatives of the Parliament and the Commission. We would also like to call on the Belgian Presidency to express an interest in joining such an initiative, on behalf of the Council.

The High Level Working Group met together with Commissioner Maros Sefcovic on 6th May. We have established a draft timetable for the two institutions to join their separate registers, creating a single register for interest representatives, with the objective of improving transparency and creating better public access to information. The Conference of Presidents has endorsed our work to date, as has Parliament’s Bureau.

To avoid all technical problems, and to allow interest representatives the time to adapt to this change, we foresee a one-year transitional period. It is hoped that the new joint register could be launched in June 2011, and would come fully into effect over a twelve-month period up to June 2012. During this period, all interest representatives would be encouraged to sign the new register; obtaining or renewing a long-term access badge to Parliament would become conditional upon registration.

I have recently received a number of questions about this issue and about transparency in general from you. I hope that this e-mail answers many of your questions, and please rest assured that we will do our best to respond to any further comments and questions you may have.

It has been paramount in our deliberations that the Parliament must remain the most open of all EU institutions, and that Members must feel free to speak and meet with whomever they wish. On the other hand there are other voluntary options of keeping track of lobbying activities within Parliament’s walls. The so-called “legislative footprint” was another of the initiatives introduced by the Stubb report. This was an encouragement to rapporteurs to draw up a list of all the organisations with whom they speak in conjunction with authoring a report. I myself have authored one such footprint and would be very glad to hear whether any other Members are producing them, or are interested in so doing in the future.  A further step which Members may wish to consider on an individual basis is listing details on their websites regarding their meetings/contacts with interest representatives, and politely declining meetings with representatives that are not on the Register.”

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