Transparency register: an eagerly-awaited strengthening
29 Sep 2016 12:34 PM
After five years’ existence, the transparency register, of independent organisations and people whose business is to influence EU decision-taking processes, is to evolve into a mandatory system covering all EU institutions. This is "an eagerly-awaited reform", said European Parliament Vice-President Sylvie Guillaume, welcoming the proposed inter-institutional agreement tabled by the European Commission on 28 September.
"A mandatory system covering all EU institutions was a reform that was eagerly awaited, notably by members of the European Parliament, which as long ago as 2011, made access to the EP subject to signing the register", said Sylvie Guillaume (S&D, FR), Vice-President of the European Parliament in charge of the transparency register. "I welcome the new progressive sanctions mechanism, which will make the information provided by interest representatives more reliable, and a strengthening of the staff in charge of monitoring the register", added Ms Guillaume, welcoming the proposed inter-institutional agreement tabled by the European Commission on 28 September.
"At a time when several scandals have been revealed and citizens’ trust is eroded, it is vital to be entirely transparent about the various interest groups gravitating around the European institutions", said Ms Guillaume."This reform will necessarily involve the European Council, as member states must also shoulder their responsibilities in the matter", she concluded.
European Parliament led the way
The European Parliament has possessed a register of lobbyists since 1996. As soon as the common transparency register was launched on 23 June 2011, without waiting for the other institutions, Parliament made any access to the European Parliament for interest groups subject signing the register beforehand. From 2008, in various resolutions, Parliament called on other EU institutions to opt for a mandatory register. The EP also took several further incentive measures, such as precluding any lobby representative not listed in the transparency register from being a speaker at its public hearings, and introducing a facilitated accreditation system.
Parliament’s Bureau has moreover just approved the introduction of a voluntary "legislative footprint" which will ensure greater transparency about who influences – or seeks to influence – the legislative process.
With a view to the coming debates, Ms Guillaume stressed that "from the point of view of the European Parliament, the freedom of Members to exercise their mandates is an essential element of representative democracy which must not be neglected and deserves to be reiterated".
MEPs will debate the proposed inter-institutional agreement in plenary session on Wednesday 5 October.