(Brussels, 4 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 weak transparency requirements for the new register have been drafted by the Commission?s Secretariat-General, which operates directly under Mr. Barroso?s responsibility.
Without 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.
ALTER-EU is particularly concerned about Commission plans to allow lobbying consultancy firms to opt to declare funding from their clients only in 10% steps relative to their total income. This favours bigger lobby firms who can choose to be less transparent about their clients than smaller firms. It is 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 LobbyControl.
For the full letter: