corporate lobby victory in brussels: a step forward
Calling it a step in the right direction, FoE Europe said the second Communication on the European Transparency Initiatve (ETI) was nonetheless too weak and limited, given the EU’s global relevance and organised lobby groups' influence over EU policies. In particular, FoE Europe criticized the voluntary approach favoured by the Commission as beeing too weak and too limited.
FoE’s Christine Pohl from Friends of the Earth said, "By first trying out a voluntary lobbying register, the European Commission is making EU citizens wait several more years before they get effective EU lobbying transparency. The whole system depends on an appeal to the lobbyists' conscience or their fear of damaging their reputation. But those that want to stay in the shadows will never register or disclose financial information on a voluntary basis."
Instead, FoE Europe and the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation in the EU believe the Commissions must make precise requirement on lobbyists to disclose relevant financial information on budgets, clients, and/or funding sources. A requirement to disclose income per client has been strongly opposed by the for-profit lobbyists, even though in the US similar obligations for lobbying firms have worked well.
A few weeks previous to the communication, the Commission took an important step towards improving transparency on special advisers, by releasing a list of 55 names of special advisers to the Commission and ensuring they had no conflicts of interest. However, much remains to be done to improve transparency and ensure a balanced composition of the many expert groups advising the Commission. Regrettably, the Communication on the ETI does not put forward specific proposals in this area.
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