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EP-Commission Joint Transparency Register

The European Transparency Register was set up in June 2011 and is operated jointly by the European Parliament and the European Commission. The Council of the European Union supports this initiative, although it does not participate in the register for the time being. The aim of the register is to offer citizens a fully transparent profile of actors interested in influencing the decision-making process of the EU.

The Transparency Register is a database of public affairs consultancies, trade associations, in-house lobbyists, NGOs and other organisations such as think tanks and academic institutions actively seeking to influence EU decision-making. These organisations register voluntarily and agree to respect a code of conduct established by the European Parliament and Commission jointly. Accompanying alerts and complaint mechanisms help to ensure the respect of the code by registrants and the Secretariat set up to run the register monitors the quality of the content of the system. The European Parliament and European Commission’s joint Transparency Register has grown considerably since it came into effect in June 2011 from 4,000 registered organisations to over 6,600 in June 2014.

In June 2013, the European Commission and Parliament set up an inter-institutional high-level working group to review the Transparency Register. The working group sought to clarify existing rules for registrants, tighten up the system and introduce additional mechanisms to improve the quality of the content of the register. A range of incentives will be introduced in January 2015 to encourage organisations to sign up, even as the register remains voluntary. The European Parliament has consistently called for a mandatory system, and during this revision process called upon the Commission to submit a legislative proposal for the establishment of a mandatory register by 2017, on the basis of Article 352 TFEU. A new review of the Transparency Register is planned for 2017.

Overviews

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Transparency Register

The revised Transparency Register: more information, more incentives, tougher on those who break the rules / Press release European Commission – MEMO/14/302   15/04/2014

Review of the European Transparency Register / EPRS Briefing by Copeland Nicholas, 18 June 2013, 5 p.
This briefing assesses the review process of the Transparency Register, focusing on key issues such as the mandatory or voluntary nature of the register and the possible participation of the Council.

European Transparency Register / EPRS Briefing by Copeland Nicholas, 30 May 2012, 4 p.
Introduction to the Transparency Register, with a focus on the background, the main features and early reactions.

The EU Institutions

A selection of key documents on the creation and review of the Transparency Register presented in a chronological order starting with the Inter-institutional Agreement (IIA) between the European Commission and the European Parliament on establishing the joint TR in 2011 and ending with its revised version signed in April 2014 as well as other related documents, such as the European Ombudsman’s recommendation to the Council of the European Union to join the register.

Inter-institutional Agreement between the European Parliament and the European Commission on the establishment of a transparency register for organisations and self-employed individuals engaged in EU policy- making and policy implementation / OJ L 191/29, 22.7.2011, 10 p.

Council Statement on the “Transparency Register”/ Council of the European Union press release, 23.6.2011, 1 p.

EP Rules of Procedure, Annex X Transparency Register

A letter on transparency register to Mr N. Wammen, Chairman of General Affairs Council by Mr Rainer WIELAND, Vice-President of the European Parliament and Mr Maroš ŠEFČOVIČ, Vice President of the European Commission, 08.03.2012, 3 p.

Implementation of the IIA of 23 June 2011 between the European Parliament and the European Commission on the establishment of a transparency register: The Work and Functioning of the Joint Transparency Register Secretariat (JTRS), 11.9.2012, 7 p.

Transparency Register – Report by the General Secretariat of the Council on its participation as an observer in the Joint Transparency Register / Council of the European Union, General Secretariat, 6458/13, 14.2.2013

Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič: Joint Transparency Register to be stronger and keep its unique scope / Press release European Commission – IP/13/1252, 13/12/2013.

Agreement between the European Parliament and the European Commission on the transparency register for organisations and self-employed individuals engaged in EU policy-making and policy implementation, 2014, 20 p.

Ombudsman calls on Member States to back EU Transparency Register/European Ombudsman – EO/14/1, 16/04/2014.

Stakeholders’ views

This section presents various views on Transparency Register expressed by organisations bringing together interest representatives and NGOs campaigning for more transparency in the EU. The selection is by no means complete.

Transparency International EU office – EU Lobbying
The Transparency International European Union Liaison Office (TI-EU) is part of the global movement of Transparency International. It supports the transition towards a mandatory register, in order to improve lobbying regulation across the EU and further the fight against corruption.

About lobbying transparency, ALTER-EU
The Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) brings together different actors from civil society such as trade unions and NGOs. It underlines the flawed nature of a voluntary system and pushes for the introduction of a mandatory one.

SEAP Society of European Affairs Professionals
The Society of European Affairs Professionals is recognised as a major umbrella organisation for lobbyists from the commercial sector (i.e. corporations, consultancies). Although it has recently welcomed the incentives to be introduced for those who register voluntarily, it continues to promote self-regulation and opposes a mandatory system.

EPACA European Public Affairs Consultancies Association
The European Public Affairs Consultancies Association (EPACA) represents over 40 major public affairs consultancies working in Brussels in contact with the EU institutions. It welcomes the European Parliament’s call for a mandatory register and recognizes the need for stronger regulation.

Analysis

Interest representatives’ obligation to register in the Transparency Register: EU competences and commitments to fundamental rights, DG Internal Policies Policy Department C: Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs, PE 493.038, 2013, 34 p.
The study lays out the legal framework for introducing a mandatory registration for interest representatives wishing to influence EU decision-making. It concludes that any obligation to register in the current framework would have to be based on Article 352 of the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union.

The Transparency Register: A European vanguard of strong lobby regulation? / Justin Greenwood and Joanna Dreger, Interest Groups & Advocacy, 2013, p. 139–162.
This article examines the development, content and challenges of the Transparency Register before the latest review process. It tackles some of the main issues raising controversy among stakeholders, such as the voluntary vs. mandatory nature of the register. It offers also a comparison of the TR and current similar registers in EU MS.

Trading information for access: informational lobbying strategies and interest group access to the European Union / Adam William Chalmers, Journal of European public policy, v. 20, n. 1, 2013, 39-58, 21 p.
EU institutions’ information needs and tactics used by lobbyists to match that demand are the focus of this article on interest representatives’ access to the EU institutions. It includes a comparison between the impact of various tactics vs. success in getting access to the decision-makers.

Report on the role of extra-institutional actors in the democratic system (lobbying) / European Commission for Democracy Through Law (Venice Commission), Adopted by the Venice Commission at its 94th Plenary Session (Venice, 8-9 March 2013), Strasbourg, 22 March 2013, Study 590 / 2010, CDL-AD(2013)011, 20 p.
This report examines the participation of extra-institutional actors (i.e. interest representatives or lobbyists) in national policy making. It presents and evaluates the pros and cons of various existing lobbying regulations, by dividing them into categories of low, medium and high regulated systems.

Lobbying and transparency: A comparative analysis of regulatory reform / Holman, Craig, Luneburg, William in Interest Groups & Advocacy (2012) 1, 75–104, 30 p.
This article presents a detailed comparative analysis of regulatory reforms in Northern America and European lobbying regimes, offering recommendations on how to enhance transparency in policy making.

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