Back in 2012, the TI-Liaison Office to the EU and TI-Secretariat published a  Regional Policy Paper that was part of a series published in the framework of TI’s European National Integrity Systems study conducted in 25 European countries with financial support from the Prevention of and Fight against Crime Programme of the European Commission Directorate-General for Home Affairs, Norway Grants/EEA Grant and Svenska PostkodStiftelsen.  

TI pointed out that measures are needed to implement regulations where they are missing and to close the gaps for laws that already in place, stressing that success will require action from all countries, the EU, businesses and citizens. TI recommended the following:

1. Introduction of Mandatory Registers of Lobbyists in all countries

For countries that have voluntary registers, these should be made mandatory and accessible online to the public. In the case of the European Union, its “Transparency Register” should be made mandatory for all interest representatives and cover all three institutions – the European Commission, European Parliament and European Council.

2. Adopt a broad definition of Lobbyists for Lobbying Regulations

Laws should extend their coverage to include public affairs consultancies, corporate lobbyists law firms, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and think-tanks. Such a change is the only way to guarantee the complete listing of individual lobbyists. TI’s definition of lobbying, as set forth in TI’s 'Anti-Corruption Plain Language Guide' is the following: “Any activity carried out to influence a government or institution’s policies and decisions in favour of a specific cause or outcome. Even when allowed by law, these acts can become distortive if disproportionate levels of influence exist by companies, associations, organisations and individuals.”

3. Adopt Codes of Conduct for Lobbyists and Lobbied Persons (Including Public Officials)

These should be mandatory and include clear sanctions for failure to adhere to the established lobbying regulations. For public officials, measures should include how to address and prevent conflicts of interest.

4. Institute ‘Legislative Footprints’

These documents should provide information on the time, person and subject of a legislator’s contact with a lobbyist or stakeholder. This way, citizens will have more complete information about who their representatives are meeting with when drafting legislation. Such “footprints” should be used for parliaments at the national and local level as well as for European institutions.

5. Implement ‘Cooling-Off’ Periods

Measures should be applied in all countries that require reasonable time periods – at least two years – for individuals going through the “revolving door” between the public and private sector. For the European Parliament, its code of conduct should be amended to include a “cooling off” provision to create a firewall between Members of Parliament and the lobbying industry.

6. Mobilise Groups and Media Working to Track and Disclose Lobbying Activities

Such information can help to arm citizens and public interest groups with the knowledge to actively question their representatives and participate in public debates about how lobbying is influencing the country’s legislation


Laying out his objectives as European Commission President for the next 5 year term, Jean-Claude Juncker has indicated he might be ready to take the Transparency bull by the horns. Outlining his agenda for 'democratic change', Mr Juncker has committed himself to enhancing transparency of lobbying around decision-making. He pointed out that EU citizens 'have the right to know with whom Commissioners and Commission staff, Members of the European Parliament or Representatives of the Council meet in the context of the legislative process'.

In making this commitment to transparency, Mr Juncker has positioned himself quite clearly on two key issues:

  • Transparency is not optional, it’s a right. Despite TI-EU’s advocacy efforts over the years to increase transparency on the activities of all institutions, the last review of the Transparency Register concluded with the activities of the Council remaining completely outside the scope of the Register. Mr Juncker has indicated he is ready to address Council opacity by demanding that it subscribe to the scope of a mandatory Transparency Register.
  • Transparency is not just a list of names. As the new Commission President also underlines, knowing who was met with in the context of the legislative process is a baseline for meaningful transparency. As it stands, the Transparency Register delivers limited insight to the public on exactly what meetings were linked to specific policy changes. The general public have access to a list of organisations and their general lobbying interests but have no way of seeing how many times lobbyists contacted institutions, on which specific piece of legislation they were in contact and whether their interaction was considered as impacting on the process or not. A more dynamic version of the current system is needed to give real effect to the current transparency tools of the EU and Mr Juncker has signalled he is perhaps willing to respond.


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