ETI debate in European Parliament

Development of the framework for the activities of lobbyists in the European institutions

Under procedure 2007/2115(INI) the European Parliament is now preparing an initiative report on the Communication from the Commission: Follow-up to the Green Paper 'European Transparency Initiative' COM (2007) 127.

AFCO Constitutional Affairs Committee

For the initiative the Constitutional Affairs Committee is the main forum.

On 1 April 2008, Alexander Stubb left the European Parliament after being appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs in Finland. Ingo FRIEDRICH (EPP-ED, Germany) took over Stubb's role as rapporteur.

  • Main dates
    • 24 January 2008 (morning) — First discussion in AFCO on draft report
    • 27 February 2008 — Second discussion in AFCO on draft report
    • 6 March 2008 12:00 — Deadline for amendments
    • 1 April 2008: AFCO Committee vote on draft report and amendments
    • 30 April 12:00 — Deadline for amendments to resolution
    • 7 May — Plenary debate
    • 8 May — Plenary vote on resolution

Stubb Report adopted

The report by Alexander Stubb on the framework for the activities of interest representatives (lobbyists) was adopted on 1st of April by 18 positive votes, 1 vote against and 3 abstentions. The report stresses that lobbying must be transparent and takes a positive standpoint towards a common lobbyists' register of all the European institutions. The report will come to the plenary in Brussels on 8 May.
In the run-up to the plenary vote, amendments can be tabled, but they need to be supported by at least 40 MEPs.

Opinions from other Parliament Committees

Several other Parliament Committees have prepared opinions to this report. These opinions consist of suggested changes or additions to the report. Every Committee member can table amendments to an initial draft "opinion" which is prepared by one of the Committee members. The draft opinion is discussed and after amendments have been tabled, both the opinion and the amendments are voted during a Committee meeting.

CONT (Committee on Budgetary Control)

  • Main points
    • Recalls that a considerable number of the contributions received by the Commission in response to its Green Paper on transparency, in particular NGOs, advocated a compulsory (rather than voluntary) approach as the only way to ensure full transparency;
    • Supports commission proposal on financial transparency
    • Register should be linked to code of conduct; notes importance of independent monitoring and credible sanctions

ECON (Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs)

  • Main points
    • believes current EP system is sufficient; supports AFCO report

ENVI (Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety)

  • Main points
    • calls for a mandatory registration system, including financial disclosure, as a voluntary system is not credible and is bound to fail
    • calls for an common (inter-institutional) code of ethical behaviour
    • calls for an independent implementation and sanction mechanism
    • calls for more transparency and stricter rules to avoid conflicts of on a range of issues such as special advisors, expert and high level groups, comitology committees, revolving doors, staff seconded by national governments and other experts, intergroups

LIBE (Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs)

  • Main points
    • only a mandatory register with financial disclosure for all lobbyists will be an efficient tool in helping to identify and assess the strength of the most important driving forces behind a given lobbying activity.
    • the register must be linked to a code of ethical behaviour preferably common to all the EU institutions;
    • calls for a monitoring mechanism (i.e. the Quaestors or a Committee of senior MEPs) and sanctions for lobbyists who give unsatisfactory or false information;
    • calls for more transparency on intergroups

JURI (Committee on Legal Affairs)

Rapporteur Diana WALLIS (ALDE, UK)

  • Main points
    • Expresses doubts as to the fairness and effectiveness of the voluntary system proposed by the Commission
    • considers that some form of financial disclosure is necessary but it should be enough to disclose the overall volumes of lobbying activity and the list of clients without indicating the individual fees or client-by-client proportionate amounts; demands more information about the finances of not-for-profit organisations and the funding of their lobbying campaigns and material;

PETI (Committee on Petitions)

Has decided not to issue an opinion

Transparency in financial matters

Under procedure 2007/2141(INI) the Committee on Budgetary Control has prepared a report on Transparency in financial matters. This report complements Stubb's report on lobbying transparency and deals with the other main issues of the European Transparency Initiative, including

  • transparency on subsidies,
  • declaration of financial interests of public office-holders in the EU Institutions, and
  • composition of expert groups advising the Commission.

CONT (Committee on Budgetary Control)

Related issues

Parliamentary Question Bonde: Climate policy Lobby

Will the Commission supply a complete list of the firms, organisations, consultants and private individuals who have attempted to influence the Commission’s climate policy and proposals by approaching one or more members of the Commission’s staff?

Parliamentary Question Robert Kilroy-Silk: Subsidies to 'independent' lobby groups

Will the Commission list all those organisations that are supposedly independent lobby groups, such as Friends of the Earth, to which it has given grants, indicating the size of the grant in each case?

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