Written by Elisabeth Bauer and Marie Thiel,
Decisions taken by the EU affect millions of European citizens. These decisions must be taken as openly as possible. At the same time, the EU institutions interact with a wide range of groups and organisations representing specific interests. This is a legitimate and necessary part of the decision-making process, which helps EU policies to reflect citizens’ real needs. This decision-making process must be transparent to allow for proper scrutiny and to ensure that the Union’s institutions are accountable. The European Parliament and the European Commission are committed to being open about the groups and organisations with which they interact, and have set up a joint Transparency Register.
The EU Transparency Register
The EU Transparency Register, run by the Parliament and the Commission, is a voluntary system of registration for entities seeking to directly or indirectly influence the EU decision-making process. It covers all organisations and self-employed individuals from trade and professional associations to NGOs and think tanks, irrespective of their legal status. Although the system is voluntary, over 9 000 representative groups have signed up since its inception in 2011, revealing their particular interests, whom they represent, and with what means, while also abiding by a code of conduct for registrants. In turn, Parliament grants registered interest representatives facilitated access to its premises and requires speakers at its public hearings to be registered. In 2014, the Commission decided to keep a public record of all meetings between Commissioners, their Cabinets and Directors-General and registered interest representatives.
Follow the event via a Twitter hashtag: #EUTransparency
or watch the webstream
Parliament has called on the Commission to review the current interinstitutional agreement (IIA) before 2017 and come up with a proposal for a mandatory system. The Commission has, as part of its 2016 annual work programme, indeed announced that it would present a proposal for a ‘mandatory Transparency Register’ to Parliament and the Council before the end of the year. As a first step, also requested by Parliament, the Commission has launched a public consultation running between March and end May, in preparation for a formal proposal.
Stakeholders are invited to have their say about the current Transparency Register and future options at a joint event at the European Parliament on 2 May 2016, hosted by Parliament’s Vice-President responsible for the Transparency Register, Sylvie Guillaume, and the First Vice-President of the Commission, Frans Timmermans.
- Public consultation on the Transparency Register: Towards a mandatory Transparency Register for lobbyists, At a glance note, April 2016
- EU Transparency Register, Briefing, April 2016
- Transparency of lobbying in Member States, Comparative analysis, April 2016
- Transparency of lobbying at EU level, Briefing, December 2015