US-style controls on lobbying look to be on the cards for Europe, after Brussels’s largest public affairs companies refused to participate in proposed voluntary regulation because of mandatory disclosure of their clients and fees.
Commissioner Kallas’s intention was to shed light on the influence exercised by Brussels’s estimated 15,000 lobbyists, while avoiding a mandatory compliance regime that would be the first comprehensive official regulation of lobbying in Brussels.
Kallas has refused to compromise on financial disclosure. “If spending money on lobbying gives no influence, I wonder what the lobby professionals say to their clients when they bill them?” he recently asked the European Parliament, adding that the proposed regulation was “very light” by international standards, he said.
The Commission has made it clear that if voluntary controls did not work it would introduce a US-style mandatory system with penalties for non-disclosure.
EPACA, like the Society of European Affairs Practitioners have a code of conduct – while lobbyists must sign an ethics code to gain access to MEPs, they need not provide any information other than clients’ names.