A word from Gérard Legris – Joint Transparency Register Secretariat

In democracies, citizens have the right to freely convey their individual or collective views to public decision makers. They can naturally do so directly themselves, but they can also mandate intermediaries to represent them and advocate on their behalf. Public decision makers need themselves a wide exposure and a wide diversity of input to be able to make informed decisions and to deliver appropriate policies matching realities. This is why public affairs, government affairs, advocacy, as well as what is commonly called lobbying, are recognised as both legitimate and necessary activities.

To be fully compatible with democratic principles, such activities however should strictly comply with two essential requirements: transparency (citizens have the right to know who is engaged in such activities) and conformity with the law and ethical principles. The European institutions have a duty towards the citizens to ensure such compliance. The professionals engaged in such activities, and wishing to act in good faith, have themselves a stake in securing their professional reputation by promoting transparency, and discouraging unethical behaviour.

Initiatives such as PubAffairs Bruxelles, together with similar efforts, developed by all other professional associations in this field, can actively contribute to promote such behaviour and achieve such results. This is why it is very much welcome in Brussels.

Brussels, 1st of January 2013

Gérard Legris
Former Coordinator of the European Parliament and Commission Joint Secretariat