The EU Transparency Register, jointly launched by the European Commission and the Parliament a year ago today (Monday), fails to give a full and accurate picture of lobbying activities in Brussels, according to a new report by the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (Alter-EU) .
The report, Dodgy Data – time to fix the EU’s Transparency Register, finds that the voluntary register is missing key data on who is lobbying, with most of the law firms which lobby in Brussels notably absent. ALTER-EU has identified at least 120 companies that are active in EU lobbying, but are not on the register .
While the number of lobbying organisations in the register has increased, many of the entries fail to reveal the topics lobbied on, the size of the lobby expenditure, or include what appear to be inaccurate or misleading amounts. More than 50 entries claim to spend less than one euro on lobbying a year .
The new register has also failed to improve transparency around the names of lobbyists. Only the names of lobbyists with European Parliament access passes are disclosed and this number went down to 2,652 in May 2012, from 4,051 in May 2011.
ALTER-EU says the figures reveal a failure to improve levels of transparency and accountability around EU decision making, and call for mandatory registration to be introduced.
Olivier Hoedeman, speaking for ALTER-EU, said:
“When the new register was introduced a year ago, Commissioner Šefčovič claimed that stronger incentives and regular checks would bring real transparency around lobbying. The reality is that far too many lobbies continue to boycott the register, including many large companies and law firms active in lobbying. A mandatory system is unavoidable if the European Commission and Parliament are committed to lobbying transparency”.
Hoedeman added: “The entries we have examined make a joke out of transparency. The register is littered with inaccurate data, misleading entries and blatant attempts to hide the real nature of lobbying activities. Urgent action is needed to remedy this situation, including random checks on the information provided.”
According to the report, the highest lobbying expenditure for a company in Brussels is the American camera equipment producer, Panavision, which declares spending 35 million euro on EU lobbying – more than ExxonMobil, Shell and GDF Suez combined .
Olivier Hoedeman, Corporate Europe Observatory, tel: +32 (0) 2893 0930
 Dodgy Data – time to fix the EU’s Transparency Register, ALTER-EU, 25 June 2012.
For advance viewing (from Thursday), under embargo until Monday 25th June, see: http://www.alter-eu.org/sites/default/files/documents/Dodgy-data.pdf
 In total the report identifies 120 companies that have EU lobby operations as listed in external directories of lobby firms and corporate EU affairs offices, or that have taken part in EU stakeholder consultations, but which are not in the register.
 More than 50 consultancies, consultants and law firms in the register declare spending zero or one euro on lobbying. This raises questions about whether the figures are accurate, and if they are, why they have registered as lobbyists.
 ExxonMobil Petroleum & Chemical declares spending 4,875,000 euro, Shell Companies declare 3,875,000 and GDF Suez declares spending 3,875,000.