Brussels, 3 June 2008
- The Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation in the EU
(ALTER-EU) has today written to Commission President Barroso urging him
"to intervene and ensure that the Commission's new register for lobbyists
will deliver transparency". The appeal by the transparency coalition comes
after the Commission's announcement that the long-awaited voluntary register
will not include meaningful financial information nor names of lobbyists.
the Commission more than three years to come up with a proposal that is not
only inadequate and messed up but it also treats various lobby groups in
different ways", says Paul de Clerck (Friends of the Earth Europe). "We are launching an
appeal directly to Commission President Barroso. If he is serious about making
EU decision making more transparent, he needs to intervene now, in order to fix
the flaws in the register".
The weak transparency requirements for the new
register have been drafted by the Commission's Secretariat-General, which
operates directly under Mr. Barroso's responsibility.
names and detailed financial data the register will be a token gesture rather
than a serious step forward in securing transparency around EU lobbying", says Olivier Hoedeman from
Corporate Europe Observatory. "Launching the register with these glaring flaws would mean that EU
citizens will be denied crucial information, such as how many lobbyists are
influencing EU decision-making, on whose behalf and with which budgets".
The number of EU lobbyists is generally
estimated to be over 15,000, a large majority representing commercial
interests. Industry insiders estimate the annual turnover of corporate lobbying
in Brussels to be up to 1 billion euro per year. Precise figures are
unavailable because of the absence of financial transparency obligations. The
proposed register will not list the individual lobbyists, only their firms or
Even though the Commission always indicated
that all lobbyists will be treated equally, the current proposal treats various
categories of lobbyists differently. The financial data in the register are
incomparable and cannot be compiled into meaningful aggregate data.
lobbyists should be dealt with in the same way and should disclose lobbying
expenses as well as overall budgets", says Jorgo Riss of Greenpeace.
ALTER-EU is particularly concerned about
Commission plans to allow lobbying consultancy firms to opt to declare funding
from their clients only in 10 per cent steps relative to their total income.
This favours bigger lobby firms who can choose to be less transparent about
their clients than smaller firms. The weakening of the transparency obligations
for these firms is a direct result of aggressive lobbying by EPACA and other
interest groups representing Brussels-based lobbyists-for-hire.
unacceptable that the Commission allows large lobby firms, who are mainly
working for big business clients, to be less transparent than others," says Ulrich Mueller from
ALTER-EU calls upon Commission President
Barroso to "ensure that the register will include the names of individual
lobbyists as well as meaningful financial data, disclosing lobbying expenses in
ranges of 10.000 euro".
In addition to the letter sent by the ALTER-EU
steering committee, the coalition will this afternoon launch a pan-European
letter writing initiative to convince Mr. Barroso of the need to secure
transparency around EU lobbying.
European citizens can participate and write to
The letter to Commission President Barroso is
available online here.
For more information please contact:
Paul de Clerck, Friends of the Earth Europe,
tel: +32-494380959, e-mail: paul[at]milieudefensie.nl
Olivier Hoedeman, Corporate Europe
Observatory, tel: +31-20-6127023 or +31-6-45460007 (mobile), e-mail:
Ulrich Mueller, LobbyControl, tel: +49 221
1696507 or +49 170 3110089 (mobile), e-mail: u.mueller[at]lobbycontrol.de
Jorgo Riss, Greenpeace, tel: +32 2 274 19 07,