Deal about transition to mandatory EU lobby transparency or not?

Confusion over outcome of EP-EC working group

Yesterday, 12 December 2013, the interinstitutional EP-EC working group on the review of the EU lobby Transparency Register had its closing meeting. The first bits of news that reached us via the grapevine suggested that MEPs in the working group had reached a weak deal with Commissioner Šefčovič on making the register mandatory. This seemed to be confirmed in the EP press release that was issued yesterday, which says that “the working group called for a proposal by the Commission to adapt the EU Treaty. Failing this, the Commission should formulate a proposal by 2016 on the basis of article 352 of the EU Treaty, which, however, requires unanimity among the EU member states.” In other words: a proposal from the Commission to move towards a mandatory register before the end of 2016.

But today’s press release from the Commission says nothing about such an agreement, while only listing problems that allegedly would arise from a transition to a mandatory register.

After the EC press release, a “list of measures and elements to take into account in the event of a review of the Transparency Register and result of discussions of the WG” was published on the website of the Transparency Register. The status of this document is unclear1 and it only adds to the confusion. Under article A-22 it says that the question of how to move towards a mandatory register “could be assigned to AFCO in the meantime, awaiting the next foreseen review in 2017”. In other words: no clear commitment for a proposal to be tabled by the Commission for a transition towards a mandatory register before the next register review, scheduled for 2017.

Given the confusion over this key issue of the Transparency Register Review, the chairs of the Working Group – MEP Rainer Wieland and Commissioner Maroš Šefčovič – should urgently provide clarity about what has been agreed on a transition towards a mandatory register and they should immediately publish the full text of the draft text of the Interinstitutional Agreement as agreed among the members of the Working Group. There is no justification for further secrecy. EU citizens have a right to know about EU lobbying and with the EP elections coming up in May 2014 they have a right to know if the European Parliament (and the European Commission) are resolved to ensure that right or not.

  • 1. This paper is not the draft Interinstitutional Agreement that was discussed during the working group meetings