Time for a mandatory EU lobby register – ALTER-EU

Brussels, 18 June 2013. Over the next months, the European Commission and Parliament will review their voluntary joint Transparency Register that entered into force June 2011. The voluntary register continues to have a large number of shortcomings, say ALTER-EU., and it’s time for a mandatory one.

Hundreds of companies, consultancies and law firms involved in EU lobbying remain unregistered. But according to Markus Krajewski, Professor in Legal Studies at Erlangen-Nürnberg University in Germany, the new EU Treaties provide a legal base for a mandatory lobby register.

The European Parliament has spoken out on several occasions that it wants a mandatory register. [1] The Commission however favours a voluntary register. One of the main arguments of the Commission has been that there is no legal base for a mandatory register in the EU Treaties.

Transparency coalition ALTER-EU [2] and Austrian Federal Chamber of Labour (Arbeiterkammer) asked Professor Krajewski to prepare an analysis of whether such a legal base exists in the EU Treaties, as well taking into account the new legal framework under the Lisbon Treaty. In his legal opinion, Professor Markus Krajewski concludes that Article 298 (2) Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) provides a legal base for mandatory transparency of lobbyists when they target the EU institutions in their administrative tasks.

The implied powers doctrine allows extending this to cover lobbying towards lawmakers, in particular Commissioners and members of the European Parliament, engaged in both administrative and legislative tasks. Therefore, an EU regulation that introduces a mandatory Transparency Register based on those legal bases could be adopted through the ordinary legislative procedure, requiring only qualified majority in the Council instead of unanimity, as it would under Article 352 TFEU [3].

Paul de Clerck of ALTER-EU states, “The voluntary Register continues to have significant loopholes – many important lobby groups are not signed up and the information provided is often not reliable. A mandatory Register can solve these problems. As a legal base now exists for this, the Commission should use the review process to begin making the necessary legislative proposal.”

Alice Wagner of Arbeiterkammer adds, “When the joint Register was launched in 2011, the Parliament asked to use the review process to prepare for a transition to mandatory registration. We call on MEPs now to push for a more effective and binding register that includes all companies and lobby groups and provides citizens with accurate information about lobbying.”

While legislation is in preparation, the legal opinion points out that Commission and Parliament can already take measures that make registration much more attractive by adapting the Rules of Procedures of both institutions to [4]:

  • Restrict access to EU premises to registered lobbyists only.
  • Commissioners and staff only speak at events of registered groups.
  • Membership in advisory and expert groups is open to registered firms and lobby groups only.

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More information

ALTER-EU: Paul de Clerck,
Tel: +32 494 380 959, paul@milieudefensie.nl

Arbeiterkammer: Alice Wagner,
Tel: +43 1 50165 2368, Alice.WAGNER@akwien.at

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NOTES
The full report can be downloaded from this page:
http://www.foeeurope.org/legal_framework_mandatory_lobby_register180613

[1] Decision adopted by European Parliament vote, 11 May 2011: “Repeats, however, its call for the mandatory registration of all lobbyists on the TR and calls for the necessary steps to be taken in the framework of the forthcoming review process in order to prepare for a transition to mandatory” (P7_TA(2011)0222).

[2] Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU): http://www.alter-eu.org/

[3] Article 352 TFEU was the legal basis identified by the European Parliament.

[4] We have proposed that only lobbyists who spend above a threshold of 20,000 euro per year have to register.