The Juncker Commission made a vow to reform the lobby register when proclaiming its priorities for its five-year mandate. However, the two-year negotiations between the Commission, Council of EU, and the European Parliament have proven to be fruitless. The three parties’ attempts to create a shared mandatory lobbying register that would significantly increase transparency, have fallen short of fulfillment.
With the European elections now behind us, it is less and less likely the Juncker Commission will deliver on its promise as the end of its term draws near. Nevertheless, the EC has so far stood firm in its demands that the two legislative bodies hold meetings exclusively with registered lobbyists and publicly disclose those meetings. Although the EP and the Council agree transparency is crucial, they nevertheless demand respect for the right of the MEPs to freely exercise their mandates. They ask wish for the register rules to be applied only to committee chairs and others who draft the EP’s position.
Furthermore, EP negotiators find the Commission to be somewhat unjust in its demands, requesting full disclosure from MEPs, but refusing to subject their Heads of Unit to the transparency register playbook. In addition, on the 2nd of July, new MEPs took over the helm, and other, more pressing concerns than the lobbying register surely took precedence. With the stalemate ongoing, it is safe to presume the transparency register negotiations will be sidelined due to lack of time. The Juncker Commission will have to leave it to their successors to follow through with this issue.
Considering all of the changes happening in the European Union at the moment, it will be interesting to see what the future holds for lobbying activities in Brussels. A thorough transparency register that encompasses all EU institutions is still a necessity. Transparency is an important element in building public trust in not only the EU, but also in the lobbyist profession.