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European Parliament plenary votes for mandatory lobbyists register: Christian Democrats and Liberals weaken resolution.
 02.06.2008 23:45:35
European Parliament plenary votes for mandatory lobbyists register Christian Democrats and Liberals weaken resolution

Brussels, May 8 - The Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation in the EU (ALTER-EU) welcomes the European Parliament's approval today of the report on "Framework for the activities of lobbyists in the EU institutions". The report sends a strong message to the European Commission by calling for a mandatory register, including lobbyists names, their clients or funders and financial disclosure on registered lobbying activities. The Commission is expected to launch its own register in mid-June - but under current proposals this will be purely voluntary, and will not include meaningful financial data or the names of individual lobbyists. "Commissioner Kallas must now act and strengthen the Commission's weak proposals for EU lobbying transparency and ethics rules, as he recently committed to do", says Erik Wesselius (Corporate Europe Observatory).[1]

Despite this positive news, the plenary vote today also produced some very disappointing changes to the report. A controversial amendment creating a loophole for law firms was approved with the votes of EPP-ED and ALDE. [2] "It is deeply disturbing that Brussels-based law firms providing lobby consultancy services for corporate clients may now be able to escape transparency obligations", says Uli Mueller (LobbyControl). The approval in today's vote follows intensive lobbying by special interest groups like the Council of Bars and Law Societies (CCBE). One of the MEPs that tabled the amendment, German conservative Klaus-Heiner Lehne, works as a partner in a law firm, advising on EU law. "This outcome shows the need for the Parliament to clean up its own house and introduce strong rules to prevent conflicts of interest", says Paul de Clerck (Friends of the Earth Europe).

ALTER-EU regrets that a majority of the European Parliament rejected proposals to set an ambitious timeline for the launch of a joint, inter-institutional register and to ensure immediate improvements in the Parliament's own rules on lobbying. Also the proposed sanction mechanism to the code of conduct was voted down, as were proposals calling upon the Commission to improve transparency around its special advisors, expert groups and comitology, and to act against potential conflicts of interests and problematic revolving doors cases.

Despite the weakening of the report by Christian Democratic and Liberal MEPs, the Parliament vote nevertheless sends a strong message to Commissioner Kallas. The Commission now must stand up against commercial lobbyists' pressure, include the names of lobbyists and introduce serious financial disclosure obligations in its upcoming register.

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For more information please contact:

Paul de Clerck, Friends of the Earth Europe, ph: +32-494380959, email: paul[at]milieudefensie.nl

Erik Wesselius, Corporate Europe Observatory, tel: +31-30-2364422 (direct) or +31-20-6127023 (general office nr.) e-mail: erik[at]corporateeurope.org

Ulrich Mueller, LobbyControl, tel: +49 221 1696507 or +49 170 3110089 (mobile) email: u.mueller[at]lobbycontrol.de

Jorgo Riss, Greenpeace, tel: +32 2 274 19 07 e-mail: jorgo.riss[at]diala.greenpeace.org

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