Law firms circumnavigating EU lobbying rules, say transparency group

Publication date: 
Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Martin Banks
Media title: 
The Parliament Magazine

Claim comes as EU consultation on mandatory transparency register comes to a close.


A study by transparency group ALTER-EU says that "too many" law firms in Brussels are absent from the EU lobby transparency register "while clearly running EU lobbying services."

Many of the nine law firms highlighted originate in the United States where they are registered in the compulsory US lobby register, says the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation.

"The boycott of the voluntary EU lobby register is further evidence to back our demand that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker should introduce a legally-binding register," says the Brussels-based group.

The analysis, 'Lobbying law firms - unfinished business', published on Tuesday (May 31), comes as the Commission's three month consultation on a mandatory transparency register comes to an end.

However, the Commission's proposal for a mandatory register would, claim ALTER-EU, be mandatory in name only and not backed by law.

"The Commission must acknowledge that there will always be some lobbyists who will seek to take advantage of voluntary lobby registration and not bother to sign up", says Nina Katzemich from LobbyControl, who authored the analysis for ALTER-EU. 

"Our analysis shows nine cases of law firms, many of whom promote their EU lobby operations on their website, but who have not signed up. We believe that these nine are just the tip of the iceberg."

The nine examples, she says, also illustrate that law firms in Brussels can be "powerful lobbyists."

Because they understand the technical details of upcoming directives, on behalf of fee-paying clients, they can discuss them with officials or draft amendments for EU parliamentarians, says ALTER-EU.