The Commission has already led by example in making meetings with its decision-makers conditional upon interest representatives being publicly listed in a Transparency Register. Today we are calling on the European Parliament and Council to follow suit, making the Register mandatory for any interest representatives trying to influence policy-making in Brussels.
First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: "The EU institutions need to work together to win back the trust of our citizens. We must be more open in everything we do. Today's proposals for a mandatory transparency register covering the Parliament, Council and Commission are an important step in the right direction. Citizens have the right to know who tries to influence EU law-making. We propose a simple rule: no meeting with decision-makers without prior registration. Through the Register, the public will see who is lobbying, who they represent and how much they spend."
The Commission has today proposed an Interinstitutional Agreement (IIA) which will put in place a robust system ensuring the transparency of lobbying activities, building on the existing voluntary Transparency Register of the Parliament and the Commission. The Commission is proposing that all three institutions – including the Council - be subject to the same minimum standards for the first time. Under these proposals, meetings with decision-makers from the three institutions would become conditional on prior registration in the Transparency Register. Since the Commission introduced this rule for its own interactions with interest representatives in November 2014, there were around 4,000 new entries in the existing Register.
Today's proposal also clarifies the scope of activities and bodies covered, bolsters the monitoring and effective enforcement of the Register's Code of Conduct for lobbyists and will simplify and improve the quality of data through streamlined input requirements and increased quality control. The Commission proposes to increase the resources available to achieve this objective. Registrants who fail to comply with the Code of Conduct could face temporary suspension of their interactions with the institutions or removal from the Register.
The proposed changes to the Transparency Register are part of a broader commitment to reforming EU policy making by the Juncker Commission. Today's proposal follows intensive discussions carried out with all relevant stakeholders. A 12-week public consultation, concluded on 1 June, receiving 1,758 replies, with 975 responses from individual citizens and 783 from organisations. Respondents shared their views on the functioning of the current Transparency Register and put forward suggestions for the design of the future regime.
The Juncker Commissions' commitment to greater transparency, set out in the Political Guidelines, has already been put into practice in several ways. Since 1 December 2014, the Commission has published information on meetings of Commissioners, their Cabinet Members and Commission Directors-General with all interest representatives. As a rule, these meetings should only take place with persons or entities which are present in the Transparency Register.
Greater access has also been given to documents relating to the negotiations for a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the United States. The Interinstitutional Agreement on Better Law-making signed in April further bolstered transparency by adopting a series of measures to enhance the openness of the EU decision-making process, including secondary legislation. In May 2016 the Commission adopted new rules on expert groups reinforcing transparency requirements and introducing synergies with the Transparency Register.
In its Better Regulation Agenda presented in May 2015, the Commission committed to open up its policy-making process to further public scrutiny and input. New stakeholder feedback mechanisms have already been set up, giving the possibility to make views known to the Commission from the very start of the preparation of an initiative on the basis of roadmaps and inception impact assessments, as well as after a proposal is adopted by the Commission, in order to feed into the legislative process in the Parliament and Council.
The Transparency Register is one of the key tools for implementing the Commission's commitment to transparency. It covers all activities carried out with the objective of influencing the law-making and policy implementation processes of the EU institutions. A first Transparency Register was established jointly by the European Parliament and the Commission in 2011; it was updated through an Interinstitutional Agreement (IIA) agreed in April 2014 and currently applies only to the two institutions.The current voluntary Register includes over 9,800 entities bound by the Code of Conduct. Registrants range from public affairs consultancies and law firms to trade and professional associations, NGOs, religious organisations and academic organisations.
Commission proposal for an Interinstitutional Agreement between the European Parliament, the Council of the EU and the European Commission on a mandatory Transparency Register
MEMO/16/3181 with FAQs
Transparency Register website
Results of the Public consultation on a mandatory Transparency Register