Alfons Westgeest, Managing Partner of Kellen Europe underlines the case for international and global associations or federations, as well as global NGOs. "Issues, such as security, food & health, consumer protection, fighting poverty, disaster relief efforts, etc. are becoming more and more global," says Westgeest. As a consequence, governments are trying to find common approaches or solutions on these global issues. However, he points out to differences in timing, procedure and decision-making processes between the EU and the US as posing problems for international coordination. "Association management companies such as Kellen's with fully-fledged offices in the US and Europe are helping associations dealing with these changes and finding new management solutions," he claims.
In a 2002 communication, the Commission asserts its intention to "encourage more involvement of interested parties through a more transparent consultation process". The paper, however, only provides "general principles and standards" for consultation within the Commission so that "all the diverse interests" are taken into account.
This approach was confirmed in the Commission's 'Better lawmaking' initiative which aims to promote "a culture of dialogue and participation". Here, the Commission's stated aim is "to establish who is really consulted as part of the Community legislative process". It asks for instance: "Are the smallest voices really and always heard? What are the subjects of consultation? To what extent are people's opinions actually taken into account?".
In an open letter to Commission President José Manuel Barroso, the watchdog NGO Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) denounced EU rules on lobbying as being "absurdly weak" and called on the Commission to follow the the US model of transparency as set out in the Lobbying Disclosure Act. In its letter, the CEO also criticised the voluntary code of conduct developed by the Society of European Affairs Professionals (SEAP) for being "extremely narrow and entirely voluntary".
Those claims were rejected by the Society of European Affairs Professionals (SEAP), which represents professional lobbyists in Brussels. In a statement, SEAP said it was "against the compulsory registration of lobbyists in Brussels". Such a model, it said, would not correspond with the position of EU civil society groups who do not want the introduction of the American model in Europe. In SEAP's view, "self-regulation is the best way to promote ethical behaviour with lobbyists, whether they represent business or civil society group interests". SEAP pointed to the ongoing strengthening of its self-regulatory code of conduct to conclude that there was "no need for EU legislation in this respect". The revised code was published on 10 February 2005.
"Everybody is welcome to provide input, and dialogue and consultation can be adapted according to the needs of different policy fields," the Commission responded following the CEO's open letter. It pointed to binding internal staff rules which impose requirement of independence and objectivity when dealing with lobbyists.