Brussels, 29 November 2013
Transparency Register grows 10% with more quality checks than ever before, annual report shows
The latest annual report on the European Parliament and European Commission's joint Transparency Register shows that more interest representatives have registered than ever before. Almost 6,000 organisations have now signed up – an increase of 10% on last year's report. A recent academic study referenced in the report suggests it now covers 60-75% of all Brussels-based actors. At the same time, well over 1,000 quality checks have been made, taking advantage of shorter procedures and new IT tools introduced this year to increase efficiency. Of these, 783 were followed-up to improve the quality of information in the Register.
Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič said: "With the Transparency Register, the EU institutions involved have joined a very small vanguard of countries who are at the leading edge of efforts to regulate interest representation. Among these countries, our Register applies to the widest playing field. I am immensely proud of our achievement so far, and I am determined that we build on this success by continuing with the sorts of improvements outlined in this annual report."
EP Vice-President Rainer Wieland said: "I very much appreciate the progress which has been made during the last year. The Joint Transparency Register is unique with a wide coverage of relevant interest group representatives, and providing a level playing field for all types of actors. I particularly welcome the on-going dialogue with all relevant stakeholders and involvement of the general public, which gives us valuable support in our efforts to further enhance the register’s coverage and functioning in the future."
As well as presenting statistics, the annual report also describes the activities of the Joint Transparency Register Secretariat (JTRS) over the past year. These include producing a third edition of guidelines for users, handling complaints & alerts, inviting non-registered entities to register, external information and communication efforts, providing workshops for MEPs' assistants and Commission staff, engaging the Council at observer level to discuss its possible participation in the scheme, contact with researchers, academics and experts, as well as national officials in charge of similar systems, for comparative and best practice analysis.
The report also touches on the review of the Register, which is ongoing. The main issues being examined include the quality of the content, enforcing stricter compliance of the rules, continued expansion of the number of registrations through further external information and communication efforts, further clarifications and guidelines, introducing additional benefits and incentives for registrants, the "voluntary" versus "mandatory" nature of registration and the possibility to envisage an ad-hoc, derogative and exceptional formula for law and consultancy firms claiming a need for client confidentiality.
Looking forward, with the continued growth in numbers of registrants, the report calls for efforts to focus on improving the quality of the data content and raising awareness of the tool. With the upcoming European elections, it will also be necessary to provide information about the scheme to new staff and Members in the European Parliament. Efforts should also continue to encourage other EU bodies, offices and agencies to use the scheme.
As of 31/10/13, there were 5,952 registrants in the Transparency Register. Half (49.93%) have registered as Category II (In-house lobbyists and trade/professional associations) and about 26% in Category III (NGOs). At a conservative estimate, an average of five people are represented by each registrant, meaning around 30,000 interest representatives have committed to the Register's strict Code of Conduct.