EU Parliament wants more transparency in lobbying jungle
Panel calls for a mandatory register and code of conduct for industry representatives advising EU officials on legislation.2 April 2008
BRUSSELS - A European Parliament panel on Tuesday called for a mandatory register and code of conduct for industry representatives advising EU officials on legislation.
Critics say the 15,000 lobbyists in Brussels hold too much sway in drafting EU laws on issues ranging from blacklisting bad chemicals and setting carbon dioxide emission caps to making rules for service providers. Such measures can have a big financial impact on companies doing business in the 27-nation bloc.
The register, proposed by the assembly's constitutional affairs committee, would be valid for all EU institutions, including the executive Commission, which drafts laws, and the Council of EU Ministers, which approves them together with parliament.
The committee also backed plans to force a full financial disclosure by lobbyists and consultants, including their turnover, costs associated with EU lobbying and, in the case of NGOs, their budget and main sources of funding.
The proposals need to be approved by the European Commission before they can take effect.
The EU executive office last year set up a voluntary register for lobbyists in which they state whom they work for and how much clients pay them to put their views to EU officials.
Brussels has become a growing hub for public affairs consultancies that work for individual companies and industry groups, corporate lobbyists, non-governmental organisations, charities and think-tanks, rivalling those in Washington.
Critics say crucial legislation is engineered by lobbyists - who can be seen roaming freely around the EU institutions despite strict entry requirements.
[Copyright AP 2008]