Juncker’s new lobbying rules: short of what is actually needed to increase transparency?

Leading journalist Jennifer Baker provides insight into the European Union’s lobby register, currently being reinforced by the new European Commission, and analyses how the new rules improve transparency in practice.

On 1 December 2014, the Commission introduced new rules enforcing that organisations can only meet with Commissioners, their Cabinet members and Directors-General if they have signed up to the EU’s Transparency Register. Since then, the number of registrations to this voluntary register has significantly increased. However, some players in Brussels believe that its voluntary nature does not go far enough and fails to eliminate phenomena such as astroturfing (companies hiding behind front organisations without declaring their real interests). A “mandatory register is needed to stop astroturfing“, stresses Olivier Hoedeman from Corporate Europe Observatory.

Natasha Bertaud, spokesperson for the European Commission, claims that a new round of rules, due to be announced on 27 January, will make it easier to spot and inform authorities about misleading information provided by lobbyists. The Commission promises to establish a mandatory lobby register for all organisations that want to contact the members of all three EU institutions – the European Parliament, Commission and the Council – in 2015.

Featuring statements by Karl Isaksson, Managing Partner at Kreab Gavin Anderson & Chairman of EPACA, Olivier Hoedeman, research and campaign coordinator at Corporate Europe Observatory and Natasha Bertaud, spokesperson for the European Commission.

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