Brussels, 27 November 2012
First Annual Report on Transparency Register shows good start, and sets further objectives for 2013
The first ever Annual Report on the Commission's and European Parliament's (EP) Joint Transparency Register of interest representatives shows the platform is working, with all the objectives for its first year of operations met. Reflecting the two institutions' determination to build on this strong start, it then sets out objectives for the next year, and proposes key issues to look at when the platform comes under review in 2013.
Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič said: "I am immensely proud of the Transparency Register and its successful launch. It is one of very few such systems in the world, and is certainly the most wide-ranging. Inevitably a lot of time and energy was spent during this first year on solving technical issues and helping users. But it exists, it works, and now we must make full use of it. The report sets out ambitious ways to do this."
EP Vice-President Rainer Wieland said: "I very much appreciate all the work that has been done to set up the Joint Transparency Register. This register is an excellent tool to provide information and to improve transparency. It can be considered as a cornerstone towards higher confidence in political processes and will become increasingly efficient the more people use it. I would therefore like to encourage all engaged actors in the representation of interests on EU level to sign up to this 'transparency pact'."
The report outlines that in the Register's first 12 months: there was a successful switch-over from the two previous registers with no fall in registrants; the online EP accreditation request module opened; three successive waves of guidelines were issued; the Council designated observers to the Joint Transparency Register Secretariat (JTRS); and a methodology for quality checks was set up. In addition, an online public consultation was held to gain more in-depth feedback from users. Nearly 4 in 5 registered respondents declared themselves satisfied with the platform.
The Transparency Register website received an average of 7,000 unique visitors every month, and the helpdesk responded to an average of 30 phone calls and 100 e-mails every week. Since March 2012, the JTRS made more than 400 quality checks, an average of 15 every week. It also handled five complaints; in one case this led to an organisation being removed from the Register.
Looking to the future, the report calls for, among other things: further improvements to the quality of the Register's content; strict enforcement of the rules; expansion of the number of registrations through further external information and communication efforts; active use of the scheme by staff and Members in both institutions by providing them with guidelines on the Register; encouragement for other EU bodies, organs and agencies to use it; and further clarifications and guidelines for registrants on how to provide the necessary information.
The report also calls for consideration of several policy issues during next year's review, including the voluntary versus mandatory nature of registration; the possibility of an ad hoc, derogative and exceptional formula for law and consultancy firms which want to register but are concerned about client confidentiality; clarification of the difference between alerts and complaints; and clarification of the category covering organisations representing local, regional and municipal authorities.
As of 22/10/12, there were 5,431 registrants in the Transparency Register. Almost half (48%) have registered as Category II (In-house lobbyists and trade/professional associations) and about 28% in Category III (NGOs). At a conservative estimate, an average of five people are represented by each registrant, meaning more than 27,000 interest representatives have committed to the Register's strict Code of Conduct.