Efforts to ensure proper transparency in EU policy-making are a relatively recent phenomenon. Although the European Parliament (EP) has had a register of lobbyists for more than 15 years, registrants did not need to provide detailed information on themselves and their clients.
An EP report on the Commission’s proposed voluntary register in 2008 called for a more comprehensive approach: a common, mandatory register of all three institutions – Commission, Council and Parliament.
Following extended negotiations in a high-level working party, the joint Commission/EP transparency register was launched in June 2011. In less than one year nearly 5 000 organisations or self-employed persons seeking an input into EU policy- making have registered through the online interface.
Although it has been generally welcomed by stakeholders and interest groups, a number of criticisms and concerns have been expressed. Mandatory registration has remained a contentious issue. And whilst successive Council Presidencies have indicated interest in becoming more closely involved, uncertainty remains over the extent to which the Council might participate.