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European Commission

MEMO

Brussels, 15 April 2014

The revised Transparency Register: more information, more incentives, tougher on those who break the rules

The Transparency Register of interest representatives was set up in 2011 and operates on the basis of an Interinstitutional Agreement (IIA) between the European Parliament and the European Commission. This agreement was recently reviewed by a high level group co-chaired by Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič and Parliament Vice-President Rainer Wieland, and including MEPs from all the political groups as well as an observer from Council. The Group held nine meetings between August and December 2013 and put forward a list of recommendations for improvement of the Register.

The result is a revised IIA which was adopted by the Commission on 9 April 2014, and approved by the European Parliament at its plenary on 15 April 2014. A signing ceremony with Vice-President Šefčovič and Parliament President Martin Schulz took place the next day. A new review of the Transparency Register is scheduled for 2017.

The revised Agreement includes a number of improvements and clarifications including:

  • Clarifying the different sections, enabling registrants to select the correct category more easily (Annex 1, IIA);

  • Overhauling the alerts and complaints procedure to increase the speed and efficiency of monitoring and the quality of the data (point VII & Annex 4);

  • Strengthening the Code of Conduct (Annex 3) by adding two new points (f and i);

  • Committing to introduce more incentives to encourage registration (point VI). For the Commission, this will include advice to all departments to encourage their stakeholders and expert group members to register. Also, Commissioners will no longer accept to be patrons of events where the event organisers should be registered but aren't;

  • Introducing a level playing field for all registrants concerning financial information (Annex 2);

  • Explaining better the scope of covered activities thereby encouraging the registration of law firms (IIA para 10).

Currently, an estimated 75% of all relevant business-related entities and around 60% of NGOs operating in Brussels have registered. The total number of registered organisations is currently around 6,500. At a conservative estimate, each organisation includes an average of five individuals, meaning at least 32,500 interest representatives are now covered by the register's Code of Conduct.

For the time being, the register will remain voluntary, due to the lack of a clear and straightforward legal basis for a mandatory register, and a desire on behalf of the Commission and Parliament to remain open to dialogue with all stakeholders regardless of their status.

The discussions in the High Level Group showed that the only legal basis for a mandatory register is Article 352 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Using this article would raise a great number of complex legal issues, in particular with regard to the scope of the register, and compliance with other articles of the treaties. Article 352 requires unanimity in the Council, and in several Member States, approval by national Parliaments as well. At present, the Council does not participate in the joint Transparency Register, although it does send an observer to meetings of the joint Transparency Register secretariat.

The new register will be launched on 1 January 2015 at the latest, and work has already started in the Joint Transparency Register Secretariat to implement the improvements.

Transparency Register website:

http://ec.europa.eu/transparencyregister/info/homePage.do?locale=en

New Interinstitutional Agreement:

http://ec.europa.eu/transparencyregister/info/consult-register/whatsNew.do?locale=en


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