EUROPE: A PLAYGROUND FOR SPECIAL INTERESTS AMID LAX LOBBYING RULES
What stops special interests, especially businesses, from telling European citizens what they can eat; how much they pay to make a mobile call; what medicines they can take?
7 of the 19 countries assessed have regulation that targets lobbying and, in most cases, this regulation is ineffective.
Although lobbying is an important part of a healthy democracy, the lax rules mean that businesses and other special interests with lots of money and friends in the right places in cities like Brussels, Rome and Berlin can easily influence politicians and the law-making process in their country to put profits before people.
Our report “Lobbying in Europe: Hidden influence, privileged access” answers the following questions: How do European countries compare in terms of lobbying regulation? Does the public know who is lobbying whom, on what matters and with how much money? Are lobbyists and their targets guided by ethical standards? And does the public have the opportunity to participate in public-decision making?
The report ranks 19 countries and three EU institutions in terms of their overall performance in safeguarding against undue influence and in promoting open and ethical lobbying. It also ranks their performance in three critical and inter-related areas of effective lobbying regulation.
THE THREE ELEMENTS OF EFFECTIVE LOBBYING REGULATION
Any serious effort to regulate lobbying should recognise that transparency must be accompanied by broader measures to strengthen public integrity and promote opportunities for access to the political system by a wide range of citizens.
- Transparency: Interactions between lobbyists and public officials are made transparent and are open to public scrutiny.
- Integrity: Clear and enforceable rules on ethical conduct for both lobbyists and public officials are in place and are properly implemented.
- Equality of access: Public decision-making is open to a plurality of voices representative of a wide range of interests.