Public authorities should make a new commitment to reach the outsiders among minority interests and the ‘silent majority’ to prevent lobbying from becoming a “monopolising channel of influence towards the EU institutions”, according to EU citizens’ association ECAS.
“Lobbyists are predatory and it is up to public authorities to keep them tamed”, states the European Citizen Action Service (ECAS) in a guide published in December last year.
Moreover, ECAS warns that lobbying in the European Union must “always be weighed up against other sources of evidence and research” to prevent particular EU lobbyists from dominating.
ECAS believe that as the number of lobbyists grows, the “darker, more ruthless side” of the process is being revealed. While it accepts that NGOs have a right and a duty to lobby to make their voices heard, ECAS calls for the practice to be “held in check”.
The guide, entitled “Tips for the would-be European lobbyist”, sets out twelve guidelines for lobbyists to follow in order to be effective at EU level, including:
- Adjusting strategy to what can be realistically achieved through the EU;
- Creating a European association or network to operate in relation to the EU institutions and across the Union, and forming alliances and coalitions;
- Participating in the consultative process, particularly through online communication tools, and;
- Making a noise in order to be seen and heard, while making full use of EU complaints procedures.
Meanwhile, MEP Alexander Stubb (EPP-ED) presented the first draft of his report on a framework for the activities of lobbyists before Parliament’s Constitutional Affairs Committee on 24 January.
The draft report calls for a common register for both the Commission and Parliament and stresses that any financial disclosure requirement should apply equally to all lobbyists.
However, Stubb’s draft questions whether financial figures are the best way of providing information on the scale of lobbying activities and suggests that particularly in the case of NGOs a “written description of lobbying activities might be more informative”.