Negotiations to improve the EU Transparency Register have now officially collapsed, as the European Parliament, Commission and the EU Council failed to advance the issue during two and a half years of discussions. The disappointment is especially big since EU Parliamentarians had just voted for greater lobby transparency in January this year.
Margarida Silva from ALTER-EU member group Corporate Europe Observatory commented:
“Corporate lobbyists in the EU are ever-better funded and keep intensifying their attempts to skew EU policy-making in their interest, but the current transparency system is still voluntary and full of loopholes. The inability of Commission, Parliament and Council to agree on a way to tackle this is a miserable political failure.
“During the past two and a half years, we saw member states in the EU Council refusing any binding commitments for the institution, the Parliament dragged its feet, delaying the whole process, and the Commission remained unwilling to compromise on its original proposal.
“The collapse of the talks is particularly a blow for the Commission’s Vice-President Timmermans, who in 2014 had loudly and proudly promised to bring about a mandatory register. As citizens are getting ready to vote next month, how will the EU Commission explain yet another lobby transparency failure?”
Myriam Douo, from ALTER-EU member group Friends of the Earth Europe added:
“After two and half years of negotiations, we can now only urge the three Institutions to unilaterally introduce concrete improvements and not throw the entire process out of the window.
“We urge them to make it a priority to continue the negotiations immediately after the elections.
The revision of the EU Transparency Register is now long overdue: the EU transparency system, and more importantly, the trust of citizens, cannot wait another four years of delay.
Notes to Editors:
ALTER-EU has been collecting examples of the shortfalls of the current lobby transparency rules. You can see them in our series Lobby Scene Investigation.
The European Commission published its proposal for an Inter-Institutional Agreement to reform the Transparency Register in September 2016.
ALTER-EU analysed the proposal at the time: At its essence, the European Commission set out to make the Transparency Register mandatory by extending the so-called “no registration, no meeting” to members of the European Parliament and to the Permanent Representations holding the EU Presidency. It had no proposal to extend this rule within the Commission.
The Council of the European Union adopted its own negotiating mandate in 2017, which only allowed for permanent representations the option of adopting the rules on a voluntary basis. Here is ALTER-EU’s analysis.
The European Parliament’s own negotiating mandate which while very positive in content, only allowed for voluntary commitments from MEPs to not meet with unregistered lobbies. But in January 2019, MEPs reformed the Rules of Procedure to make it binding for rapporteurs, shadow rapporteurs and committee chairs to publicly list their lobby meetings. Regretably, the European Commission did not consider this was enough to re-start negotiations.