Friday, 20 March 2009

Commission continues to grant privileged access to unregistered lobbyists


While the Commission claims to be urging lobbyists to join its voluntary lobby register, the speakers list of a high-level conference on industrial competitiveness organised by the Commission’s Directorate for Enterprise and Industry suggests that the Commission’s soft approach is not working.

The conference was opened by Commission President Barroso and Vice-President Verheugen and was mainly attended by corporate lobbyists. Only three out of the seven business organisations and companies speaking at the conference are registered in the EU lobby register: BusinessEurope, Dow and IBM. The other four – Ernst & Young, Philips, Unicredit and the German Mechanical Engineering Federation – are not registered. And the only trade union speaking, the European Metalworkers Federation, hasn’t registered either.

Unfortunately, this is no exception. The European Business Summit on 26 – 27 March advertises the participation of a record number of 12 EU Commissioners. But at the same time, only 8 out of the 21 corporate partners of the summit have joined the register.

Having “clear incentives for lobbyists to register” (Green Paper European Transparency Initiative, 3 May 2006) was to be the keystone of the voluntary approach of the Commission’s register. But instead of being tough on non-registered companies and business organisations, the Commission continues an open doors policy for non-registered corporate lobbyists, thus undermining its own transparency initiative.

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