Parliament, Council and Commission aim to make registration de facto mandatory, as a precondition for certain activities and through equivalent complementary measures.
The report by Parliament’s co-negotiator Danuta Hübner (EPP, PL) was adopted with 645 votes in favour, five against and 49 abstentions. This vote signifies a major change to the structure of the existing Transparency Register: interest representatives will have to register in order to be able to carry out certain lobbying activities relating to any of the three signatory institutions, while each institution will now also put in place complementary transparency measures to encourage their registration.
Parliament welcomes the “activity-based approach” that covers indirect lobbying, which has become more prevalent due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also welcomes the change of the Council’s status from an observer to a formal party to the agreement. Nevertheless, it highlights that the scope could have been broader in relation to Council activities, and calls for maximum participation in the voluntary scheme for Permanent Representations. MEPs also stress that any revision of the conditionality arrangements on the Commission’s side should include meetings with senior staff.
The text calls for the implementation of several actions by the Parliament’s bodies, including:
- making participation as a speaker at all events organised by committees or by intergroups, as well as delegation meetings, conditional on registration;
- adopting guidelines in order to support rapporteurs, shadow rapporteurs and committee Chairs to fulfil their obligations under Parliament Rules of Procedure; and
- introducing a rule for Parliament’s senior staff to meet only with registered interest representatives.
EP co-negotiator Katarina Barley (S&D, DE) stated: “After years of wrangling, the Council is finally brought on board. By setting a positive example, we can become a role model also for the Member States and shift the paradigm across the board. With the new rules, citizens can more easily understand how decisions that affect their daily lives are made. It is also important that we will now have a stronger code of conduct and more resources for the effective implementation of the rules”.
EP co-negotiator and rapporteur Danuta Hübner (EPP, PL) highlighted that “Parliament’s goals are fully reflected in the new framework: we have expanded the remit and strengthened the Transparency Register, while ensuring that free mandate given to MEPs by European citizens will remain intact. With Council becoming a co-signatory to the interinstitutional agreement, we are really turning a new page for transparent decision-making at EU level”.
Parliament’s President will sign the Agreement with the President of the Council and the
President of the Commission, which will be published in the Official Journal of the EU.
Under Parliament’s existing rules, rapporteurs, shadow rapporteurs and committee chairs are required to publish information on their scheduled meetings with interest representatives within the scope of the Transparency Register.
Parliament’s co-negotiators reached a political agreement with the Council and the Commission in December 2020. Since 2011, the Parliament and the Commission have jointly operated a public register for interest representatives. The Council has been an observer since 2014. The Commission presented its proposal for a new inter-institutional agreement on a mandatory Transparency Register covering the Parliament, Council and the Commission in 2016. More information can be found on the dedicated EP webpage.