Top TTIP lobbyists come into view

Transparency International's list of top TTIP lobbyists in the European Commission

Transparency International's list of top TTIP lobbyists in the European Commission [EU Integrity Watch/Transparency International]

The ten most active groups lobbying EU institutions on TTIP are out in the open. Statistics released today (24 June) reveal some of the big spenders meeting with European Commission leaders on the trade deal.

The top five lobbyists on the deal are Trans-Atlantic Business Council, EUROCHAMBRES (the Association of European Chambers of Commerce and Industry), European Round Table of Industrialists, railway manufacturing association UNIFE and think tank Open Europe.

Following just behind are the Confederation of Swedish Enterprises, EUROPEAN SERVICES FORUM, the American Chamber of Commerce to the European Union, Bruegel and German industry group Bundesverband der Deutschen Industrie.

An investigation published today details which top EU officials have met with lobbyists concerning the trade agreement.

Industry association BusinessEurope recorded the most number of in-person meetings with senior Commission staff across the board, although it didn’t make it into the top tier of groups that lined up to specifically talk TTIP.

NGOs have raised concerns that industry lobbyists are dominating talks on TTIP and crowding out citizens’ interests.

The new data shines light on the otherwise opaque negotiations behind the transatlantic trade deal.

But it doesn’t show the full story.

Much of the lobby records on TTIP have dodged the Commission’s mandatory register for commissioners, cabinet members and director general bosses: the TTIP negotiating team isn’t required to file reports on their meetings.

The campaigners behind the new report say that loophole leaves citizens in the dark on who’s really influencing EU leaders’ moves on the deal.

“When you lobby on TTIP, you lobby the negotiation team and not the cabinet members or the directorate general,” said Paul De Clerck of Friends of the Earth Europe, who partnered with Transparency International and ALTER-EU on the report.

Data on TTIP lobbying shows 98 meetings have been logged on that deal in the last six months. Transparency International says that’s just below average compared to other hot topics targeted for lobbyists’ meetings with decision makers.

The European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly said in an interview with EURACTIV earlier this year that the Commission’s requirement for top officials to register their meetings with lobbyists should be extended to include heads of unit and negotiators.

O’Reilly told EURACTIV on Wednesday, “I welcome any sensible transparency tools to make the lobbying activities that take place in and around the EU institutions more transparent and comprehensive. Lobbying is an important part of every democratic system. It needs, however, to be transparent and regulated. The more efforts are being made to help achieving this, the better.”

>>Read: Ombudsman: EU must interrogate US over TTIP transparency

The NGO report shows Commission leaders are slipping on their reporting obligation.

Some Commissioners and Vice-Presidents haven’t entered meetings listed on their public agenda in the lobbying register.

Eight Commission leaders met with lobbyists who aren’t logged in the EU transparency register, which is forbidden by Commission guidelines.

The NGOs also reported that Commission officials don’t balance out their dealings with lobbyists, reporting far more meetings with industry groups than with civil society representatives.

A European Commission spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

>>Read: Popular Timmermans signals mandatory register of lobbyists

Commission President Juncker inaugurated the obligatory lobbying records last December, making public basic details of officials’ meetings that previously went undisclosed.

Commissioners and top staff are required to register their meetings with lobbyists on an online portal within two weeks.

Data on the meetings is detailed on Transparency International’s new Integrity Watch platform.

Stats collected on the website fuelled another investigation published last week (18 June) on MEPs’ additional sources of income, resulting in one MEP resigning from her second job on the board of German energy company RWE.

>>Read: Moonlighting MEPs under scrutiny for conflict of interests

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