As long as many major lobby players are missing, claims that the register is ‘de facto mandatory’ are misleading. Overall the quality of the entries in the register is questionable, with a number of significant blind-spots in relation to the lobbying activities of major corporations, consultancies, law firms and trade associations.
-) Many of those who are the biggest spenders on EU lobbying according to the register, are in fact very minor players or may not even be lobbying at all;
-) There appears to be widespread under-reporting by many large lobbying entities;
-) Law firms continue to evade disclosure;
-) Many registrants have taken a very lax approach to the accuracy, quantity and quality of their declarations.
The Transparency Register is clearly not properly audited or monitored. This undermines its credibility, and raises questions about the register’s contribution to increased transparency and accountability.
Indeed, the Transparency Register risks falling into disrepute if the Commission and Parliament allow it to continue in its current form.
After four years of experimenting with a voluntary approach, the conclusion is inescapable: if the Commission and Parliament are committed to lobbying transparency, mandatory lobbying disclosure is unavoidable.