Lobby watchdog Corporate Europe Observatory proposes an online ‘virtual tour’ of the EU quarter in Brussels just weeks before the Commission kicks-off a public debate on how to improve transparency in EU policy-making.
The 3-D virtual tour starts with EU institutions buildings at the Rond-point Schuman and continues with industry associations, public affairs consultancies, law firms, and what the Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) describes as “industry-funded think-tanks” and other “dubious fora for industry and parliamentarians to meet”. However, it deliberately misses out on other major lobbying organisations such as NGOs and trade unions.
The website is being launched just weeks before the EU Commission publishes a so-called ‘green paper’ that will officially kick-start a public debate on transparency in EU policy-making. Among other proposals, the paper will include suggestions to make more information available to the public on who lobbies who and with what budget.
A major sticking point in the debate over lobbying transparency is whether these disclosure rules should be made mandatory and what types of interest groups it should cover.
Another difficulty will be to determine what exactly constitutes lobbying as formal and informal interactions between officials and stakeholders are an essential element of Brussels politics.