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CALL FOR STRICTER LOBBY RULES AFTER DALLI SCANDAL

Publication date: 
Monday, November 5, 2012
Author: 
ALTER-EU

Press release ALTER-EU

Executive summary / policy recommendations: 

Civil society groups have today written to the European Commission President urging him to end the secrecy around the resignation of the former Health and Consumer Commissioner John Dalli [1]. You can do the same, by signing our 'Clear The Smoke'-petition.

Campaign groups in the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) call on President Barroso to introduce stricter transparency and ethics rules to curb the privileged access of lobbyists to EU decision-making [2].

Their letter comes ahead of a meeting between José Manuel Barroso and the Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament [3]. It follows the scandal which erupted following the resignation of Commissioner Dalli, the confusion surrounding the conditions of the resignation, and alleged attempts at undue influence by the tobacco industry. 

Olivier Hoedeman from Corporate Europe Observatory, an ALTER-EU member group, said: "The Commission must end its secrecy around this lobby scandal. Whether this is a lobbyist selling influence-for-cash, a tobacco industry set-up to delay and weaken legislation, or a combination of both, it is clear that the current EU rules around Commissioners' contact with lobbyists are inadequate.”

Paul de Clerck from Friends of the Earth Europe and member of ALTER-EU's steering committee added: "Consultants offering clients access to high level decision-makers for money is unfortunately common practice in Brussels. We have still not had a satisfactory explanation of Mr Dalli's resignation. Contact with private lobbyists is not normally a reason for Commissioners to have to resign. The Commission needs to come clean and give the real reasons why Dalli had to step down."

The ALTER-EU coalition demands an overhaul of the Code of Conduct for Commissioners, a high-quality, mandatory lobbying transparency register and pro-active transparency on Commission meetings with lobbyists.

ENDS

For more information please contact: 

Olivier Hoedeman, Corporate Europe Observatory,  oliver@corporateeurope.org, +32-4744-86-545      

Paul de Clerck, Friends of the Earth Europe, paul@milieudefensie.nl, +32-4943-80-959      

Notes:

[1] ALTER-EU letter to President Barroso, November 5, 2012: http://www.alter-eu.org/documents/2012/11/lessons-from-dalli-scandal

[2] The ALTER-EU coalition urges the Commission to introduce stronger conflicts of interest rules to prevent undue influence and clearer procedures for enforcing such rules. This requires an overhaul of the Code of Conduct for Commissioners, for instance spelling out clearly that Commissioners should not agree to meetings set up by acquaintances acting as lobby consultants or middlemen. The Commission, moreover, should establish an independent ethics committee. In additional to clearer rules for Commissioners, ALTER-EU demands stricter and mandatory ethics rules for lobbyists, replacing those laid out in the code of conduct connected to the voluntary Transparency Register. Public affairs firms and others involved in lobbying should be banned from hiring former Commissioners or high-ranking Commission officials during a 3-year period after these have left the Commission. ALTER-EU calls for a high-quality, mandatory lobbying transparency register and pro-active transparency on Commission meetings with lobbyists Contrary to what is the situation today, the Commission should refuse to meet with unregistered lobbyists. The ALTER-EU letter calls for online transparency about all meetings between Commission officials and lobbyists, highlighting that many Commissioners have refused requests for disclosing which meetings they have had with lobbyists

[3] The European Parliament has called on President Barroso to provide full transparency about the conditions of resignation of former Commissioner John Dalli http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/pressroom/content/20121026IPR54682...

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