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Pirates: Mandatory Transparency Register for lobbying in EU institutions doesn’t live up to its name

Yesterday evening, the European Parliament endorsed an Interinstitutional Agreement for a Mandatory Transparency Register, aiming at implementing stricter rules for lobbying within Parliament, Commission and Council. While the text is an important step towards more transparency, it fails at its aim of enhancing openness of the EU decision-making processes. For the Pirates Delegation in the Greens/EFA Group, significant registration exemptions represent missed opportunities for more accountability in the institutions.

Mikuláš Peksa, Czech MEP and Chairperson of the European Pirates, comments:

“After five years of negotiations, there will finally be stricter rules to ensure transparency of lobbying practices  in the EU institutions. However, this Agreement only scratches the surface of what needs to be done to improve accountability of EU officials. We managed to strengthen publication obligations in the European Parliament, but unfortunately Member States’ representatives in the Council are still not subject to the same rules. The Transparency Register is a very useful tool that should be made mandatory for all users.”

Czech Pirate MEP Markéta Gregorová elaborates:

“From now on, lobbyists working for third countries such as Saudi-Arabia or China will have to register, which is one of a few positive takeaways. Besides that, the Mandatory Transparency Register doesn’t live up to its name, as it provides loopholes for both institution staff and lobbying groups. Even though lawyers should register when lobbying for large companies and entities, their activities will continue to stay under the radar by providing the argument of attorney client secrecy. And this new agreement still exempts religious activist groups such as COMECE from registration.”

German Pirate MEP Patrick Breyer agrees:

“It’s telling that late changes watering down the report on transparency were made in a hidden Parliamentary Committee vote behind closed doors. Some amendments ensure that Members of Parliament not dealing with legislation will still be able to meet unregistered lobbyists. The same exception is applicable to lower-level staff, such as policy advisors, of the European Parliament as well as the Commission. Allowing big money to surreptitiously buy political influence erodes public trust in democratic institutions and helps authoritarian parties that want to abolish the EU.”

The Czech Pirate Vice-President of the European Parliament, Marcel Kolaja, concludes:

“Even though the European Parliament and the European Commission already have more transparent mechanisms than most national authorities, we Pirates fully advocate complete openness in all facets. We therefore appreciate that the Council agreed to join the register. Nevertheless, it’s a pity that the obligation for registration only applies to permanent representatives during current EU presidencies and doesn’t encompass national embassies, where a large part of lobbying is done. For us Pirates, this is clearly not enough.”

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