back to article EU breaks 'legally binding' lobbying register promise

Civil rights groups are claiming the EU Commission has already broken its promises on lobby and reporting transparency, with a framework for lobbyists containing no legally binding elements now set to be implemented. Following his confirmation hearing in October, Frans Timmermans, number two at the EC, vowed to create a …

  1. Flatpackhamster

    Will register include 'charities' as well as businesses?

    There a number of groups which are registered as charities who lobby heavily. Environmental charities such as FOE are one example, but political groups who are registered as charities because they're non profit making.

    If the register doesn't include 'charitable' lobbying it isn't very useful. All that will happen is that the lobbying will be routed through a 'front' charity to avoid the register.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Will register include 'charities' as well as businesses?

      Actually I looked and it can and does. Of those lobbying in the article Friends of the Earth are on the registry in various guises as is the Corporate European Observatory - well done to FoE and CEO. Ironically I cannot find ALTER-EU though a European Alternatives is there but that seems to be a very different organisation with a different website and focus.

      Defining what is lobbying is non trivial and identifying the true source and objective can be highly obfuscated. I am more keen on transparency measures focusing on officials and elected members as is done in the UK. Who met whom, declaration of members interests and so on as that cannot be a barrier to access to your elected representatives and officials whereas lobbying regulations can. It also allows the electorate to make up its own mind.

      Otherwise officials can hide behind such regulation to avoid the very scrutiny and anti-corruption measures that might otherwise be suggested.

      Bias can occur in many ways - it is not unknown for Commission officials to actively support access for some NGOs and charities whilst presenting a barrier to industry stakeholders.

  2. Whitter

    Season's Hrrumphings

    The misuse of the word "charity" for commercial or political gain tells you all you need to know about the ethics of those behind such front organisations.

    Bah humbug!

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Season's Hrrumphings

      Charity is a loose word - my local conservative club was a charity* and so you could avoid tax by getting a subsidised lunch at the club by donating to them...

      * its a bit harder now - the club involved has closed but I think that was because the treasurer etc who winged it for a few years got promoted down south.

  3. Keven E.

    Stop calling it...

    ..."lobbying".

    Is this word still left over from "when they used to do it in the lobby"? <snicker>

    Come on over to our "house"... we'll do "it" there.

    Can we get a registry of *houses to visit?

    1. James Micallef Silver badge

      Re: Stop calling it lobbying

      What is usually called "lobbying" basically boils down to: If you (The government official) will support our position with your public statements and your votes, then we (the lobbyist) will support your campaigns to get re-elected (using some of teh additional profits we made from your support).

      Of course the 'front' of words used are a bit more subtle than that. The lobbyist will always have 'scientific' studies to 'convince' the official, and the official will always have some nice political bullshit-ese statements to 'convince' lobbyists to support their campaign. And maybe the payments are coming through an 'independent' organisation.

      But the bottom line is this: It's organised and legalised bribery

      1. Keven E.

        Re: Stop calling it lobbying

        "But the bottom line is this: It's organised and legalised bribery."

        Yes. Also, as I alluded to... prostitution.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why would (e.g.) Goldman Sachs bother with lobbying?

    They just put ex-staffers at the top of the organisations in question.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/analysis-and-features/what-price-the-new-democracy-goldman-sachs-conquers-europe-6264091.html

    An up to date version would be most welcome, if anyone knows of one more recent than 2011.

    1. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

      Re: Why would (e.g.) Goldman Sachs bother with lobbying?

      for instance, Osborne's poodle ex GS, now governor of the bank of England.

  5. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Facebook

    Facebook says it only employs two people and spends €450,000 per year,

    That's an awful lot of very expensive lunches!

  6. Sureo

    The picture at the top of the article...

    Is that of Frans Timmermans? On the left or the right?

    Just askin'.

  7. Vociferous

    The EU has been captured.

    It's like the US, except in the US there's two opposing sides, and a critical press.

    1. veti Silver badge

      Re: The EU has been captured.

      And in the EU there are about twenty opposing sides, and a hypocritical press.

      1. Matt 21

        Re: The EU has been captured.

        I think you mean hypercritical. Sometimes it seems our press would have us believe that all evils have their source in the EU.

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