A survey done by an intern at Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) has thrown new light on the relations between Danish MEPs and lobbyists. Jacob Hoedeman wrote to Danish MEPs during his internship, asking them for a list of meetings they had had with lobbyists in the last two months of 2010.
Eleven out of 13 MEPs responded within the week and only one of these, Liberal Jens Rohde, refused to send a list of the lobbyists he had met with. Rohde argued that anyone should be able to meet with him on a confidential basis. The rest responded often including the names of the groups and the individual lobbyists they met with, as well as the topic discussed. The number of meetings ranged between two and 16 over the two-month period, which is modest compared to the 250 meetings reported by UK Conservative MEP Chichester over a six-month period in 2010. The Swedish news portal europaportalen.se recently surveyed the 18 Swedish MEPs and found five declined to participate, three of whom rejected the need for transparency and argued for the 'privacy' of lobbyists.
The Danish MEPs’ survey provides interesting insights into the work and habits of the MEPs. There is, for instance, a marked difference in the groups MEPs met, with liberal MEP Morten Løkkegaard (11 meetings with lobbyists) virtually only meeting with industry lobbies while social democrat MEPs met with trade unions, NGOs and business, and left-wing MEP Søren Søndergaard who only met with an Iranian opposition group and a Danish trade union. On the issue of fur production and the living conditions of mink in fur farms - a hot issue in Denmark at the moment, it is interesting to note that Løkkegaard met with the fur producers lobby whereas Dan Jørgensen met the animal protection association.