Lobbyists are part of a democratic society and can be beneficial,
but their work should be transparent and regulated – citizens should
know who is having an influence on political decisions.
European Union bodies in particular are heavily lobbied –
and there have been cases of secret and unbalanced lobbying, as
well as reports of conflicts of interest and restrictions on access
to official documents. The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human
Rights welcomes recent steps taken by the European Union to crack down
on this, such as a revamped register of lobbyists and a Code of
Conduct for Commissioners, but believes more should be done. For
instance, the register should be expanded to cover all the European
Union institutions – not only the Parliament and Commission.
Other recommendations include a “cooling-off” period for departing
MEPs to avoid conflicts of interest, and “legislative footprints”
to track all input aimed at influencing EU laws and policies. The
European Union should join the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption
body GRECO and sign up to its Convention on Public Access to Documents.
For their part, Council of Europe member States should do
their utmost to promote transparency, accountability and integrity
and the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers should finalise
its legal instrument on the regulation of lobbying.