The Society of European Affairs Professionals (SEAP) reiterated its commitment to promoting transparency in EU lobbying and a voluntary registry, but highlighted a number of “potential pitfalls” that the group wishes the Commission to avoid.
The Commission Communication ‘Follow-up to the Green Paper European Transparency initiative’ set out a system of voluntary registration for lobbyists, which should be put in place by Spring 2008.
Those who register will be subject to rules on disclosure that would require information about their main sources of funding, broken down by category, and disclosure of any clients’ names.
Even if the fees paid by lobbyists’ clients would not have to be disclosed, other aspects of disclosure of funding could be problematic and contrary to the well-established principles of a competitive marketplace, says SEAP.
The register of public affairs outfits, business groupings, non-governmental organisations and law firms would come into effect in 2008 – those who do not register would only have their views on Commission proposals taken into account as individuals.
Commissioner Kallas has said that the city’s 15,000 lobbyists would sign up to preserve their reputation, and added that he would could call for mandatory registration if a review in 2009 found the voluntary system wanting, but warned that this would be legally complex.