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Regulating Lobbying in the European Union.

WITHOUT DOUBT, the fastest recent growth of interest organisation and representation in any democratic system has been that addressed to the European Union. Seven hundred `Euro groups', mostly based in Brussels, together with a variety of less formal collectives, 200 firms with their own Brussels-based public affairs capacities, and a clutch of around 25 public affairs consultancies operating from the Belgian capital have brought concerns about overcrowded lobbying and raised issues of equality of access to, and ethical standards of, European decision-making. A number of regulatory schemes have sought to respond to `problems' of overcrowded lobbying and lobbying abuses. The significance of these schemes on their own, and the extent of the 'problems' to which they immediately respond to, is a matter of debate. But the extent to which the schemes have persistently remained on the European policy agenda, and re-emerged in different guises, may suggest their linkage to a number of broader concerns in European public governance, including key concerns with democratic deficit, the management structures and capacities of the European institutions themselves, and standards of decision-making. An open question concerns the extent to which either schemes aimed at regulating lobbying, or the broader set of issues to which they may belong, might eventually develop in such a way as to restructure the contribution of organized interests to European integration.

Overcrowded lobbying?

The `overcrowding' consensus was partly fuelled by the European Commission's 1992 claim that `at present there are thought to be approximately 3,000 special interest groups of varying types in Brussels, with up to 10,000 employees working in the lobbying sector'.(1) Whilst this is now recognised within the Commission as a gross exaggeration based on rough and ready assumptions, the legacy it has left is that there is a problem of overcrowding of the lobby environment.

Whether or not there is any substance to the overcrowding consensus, it does appear to have reached the status of recognition as a problem which has to be managed. One manifestation of this problem concerns the crowding of the information environment, where it becomes increasingly difficult to sift the useful from the less relevant. A second concerns the capacities of the European institutions to cope with the sheer volume of interest representation. In the European Parliament, one example of this was when MEPs arrived at meetings only to find all the seating places taken and supplies of documentation exhausted by lobbyists. Indeed, until very recently, access to the Parliament's buildings in Brussels were only moderately restricted and, once in, lobbyists could gain easy access to members offices, or, in the even less restricted environment of Strasbourg, seek MEPs immediately outside the plenary chamber itself. Perhaps unsurprisingly, an increasing number of members voiced complaints.

A third type of problem associated with overcrowding concerns issues of disequilibria, where the increasing focus of public interest groups towards the European level raises questions about the relatively privileged access of business interests, the related issue of access to decision-making for European citizens, and the transparency of decision-making procedures. Where the institutions have not managed their information strategies proactively, so as to easily engage a wide range of outside interests, the system is loaded in favour of those who know their way around it. A fourth issue concerns standards in public life, where the growth of special interests has raised questions about undue influence exerted in public policies.

Although the issue has most obviously manifested itself in rather sensationalist terms of gifts for MEPs, the regulation of interest representation has arrived and remained on the European agenda in recent years because of its links with the variety of underlying issues identified above. In a process akin to Kingdon's `primeval soup', issues have met one another, combined, and a window of opportunity created their combination and through the work of policy entrepreneurs. Similar to a `garbage can' model of policy-making, where solutions search for problems, the European Parliament, forever in search of issues on which to demonstrate its democratic credentials, has been a key institutional entrepreneur seeking to apply regulatory solutions. But the European Commission has also been keen to defend its territory, and in particular its relationship with outside interests which provide it with key governance resources. Consequently, the Parliament has turned to regulation, whilst the Commission has sought to encourage self-regulation amongst the interests themselves. Because of the uniqueness of the EU, and the special role of the European Commission within the EU, consideration is given both to the role of the Parliament and to that of the Commission in the regulation of lobbying at the European level.

The issue first surfaced in the European Parliament in the shape of a Written Question in 1989 from the Dutch Socialist MEP Alman Metten, ostensibly in response to a number of abuses. The Parliament has only recently grown accustomed to being the target of significant lobbying, and for both parties the relationship has been a learning process. Some parliamentarians naturally took offence when they found multinational interests submitting mass amendments to proposals through other sympathetic MEPs, sometimes with the company logo still on the amendment sheet submitted, while in a number of cases particular interests have been accused of overkill, in terms of either the quantity or the intensity of lobbying. In addition, a number of MEPs were overwhelmed by visitors from a political party in a third country complaining of exclusion from domestic political life, while `thank you' gifts of music recordings from a third party government following a particular vote caused offence. There were unsubstantiated rumours of wider abuses, such as individual MEPs being offered favours, an MEP registering a number of lobbyists as personal staff members, individuals trespassing on Parliament premises, stealing documents and mail intended for MEPs, selling institutional documents for profit, and the invention of scare stories by consultants to drum up business from clients. The Socialist group has also expressed concerns at the way in which a range of outside interests resource the work of some intergroups. The Committee on Rules of Procedure and the Verification of Credentials and Immunities therefore responded to the climate of concern, and appointed Belgian Socialist MEP Marc Galle in May 1991 to `submit proposals with a view to drawing up a code of conduct and a public register of lobbyists accredited by Parliament.'

The Galle Report

Taking on the `special interest' community in the name of safeguarding the public interest was always likely to appeal to a Parliament in search of a populist image, and it is in this context that its role as the first institution to address the issue might best be understood. Reporting in October 1992, Galle's proposals included: a code of conduct with minimalist standards aimed at preventing abuse (such as prohibiting selling on documents and use of institutional premises); the establishment of `no go' areas in the Parliament's buildings including members' offices and library facilities; examination of the role of lobbying with intergroups; and, taking an idea from the United States, the registration of lobbyists on an annual basis, spelling out the rights and obligations of those on the register, and specifying penalties for failure to comply. A final, and contentious, proposal required MEPs annually to state their financial interests and those of their staff, on a separate register.

Galle's proposals were never put to the full EP plenary for a number of substantive and circumstantial reasons. These included: attempts by the Commission to pre-empt the proposals by seeking self-regulation by lobbyists; resistance from the College of Quaestors (a committee responsible for administrative and financial matters directly concerning members, as well as the management of the parliament buildings); and the EP elections of June 1994. The most substantive problem, however, was that the Galle report became embroiled in definitional controversies as to what constituted a `lobbyist'. This problem has beset most attempts to regulate interest representation, including the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act and the 1946 Federal Regulation of Lobbying Act in the United States. The latter requires all interest groups, associations, consultants and lobbyists to register, respect a code of practice and submit detailed accounts on their activities to the Congress every four months. However, the definition of what constitutes a `lobbyist' has proved virtually impossible to uphold in practice and consequently the register has had relatively little impact, resulting in the Lobby Restrictions Act of 1996.

Galle defined a lobbyist as `anybody who acts on the instructions of a third party and sets out to defend the interests of that third party to the European Parliament and other Community institutions'. This definition appeared to refer only to commercial lobbyists, thereby excluding those working directly for interest groups or in public affairs departments of firms. Indeed, finding a watertight definition of what constitutes the diverse range of interest representation activities is a legislative challenge that has yet to be won. Not only would such a definition need to include private actors in producer and public interest groups, it would also need to decide when activities by public sector organisations, including Commission officials and territorial governmental bodies, constitute interest representation. The difficulties experienced right at the outset by the Galle report, however, were lessons well learnt by the Committee on Rules of Procedure, which was to make a second attempt at regulating interest representation in the subsequent Parliament.

The Commission initiatives and self-regulation

The debate surrounding the Galle proposals allowed the Commission time to attempt to respond to the European Parliament's agenda, whilst developing its own. For its part, the Secretariat of the Commission was concerned by the Galle proposals because it interpreted them as a threat to its historically important relationship with outside interests. As a variety of (ancient and modern) accounts of the European integration process acknowledge, the relationship between the Commission and outside interests provide a key explanation for the development of integration sought by the Commission through the process of `political spillover', while interests bring to the Commission a solution to its problems of democratic deficit, management capacities, and lack of information and expertise. At the outset, it specifically rejected the idea of regulating by providing controlled access passes to buildings on the grounds that this would privilege certain types of interests above others. Its December 1992 publication, `An Open and Structured Dialogue Between the Commission and Special Interest Groups', explicitly states in its opening paragraph the value of interest representation by recording that: `The Commission has always been an institution open to outside input. The Commission believes this process to be fundamental to the development of its policies. This dialogue has proved valuable to both the Commission and to interested outside parties. Commission officials acknowledge the need for such outside input and welcome it.'(2)

Following these preliminary remarks, the document acknowledged the presence of individual cases of `lobby abuse' whilst at the same time questioning whether the problem was really widespread. As a direct response to the Galle initiatives, the Secretariat spent some time attempting to persuade the interest representation community to address the Parliament's concerns, and thereby to forestall regulation, by operating a self-regulatory code. Indeed, the December 1992 document specifically listed the principles on which such a code should be based. Although the Commission has, since the early days of the EEC, been mainly concerned with dialogue with representative groups rather than with commercial lobbyists, it recognised that its best chance of achieving a representative organisation and code was to work with the smaller and more easily identifiable commercial public affairs community in the first instance, for which organisation was always likely to be easier than for the more diverse interest representation community at large, while at the same time involving a number of key players from this latter constituency.

The Commission Secretariat, in partnership with a number of the larger Euro groups, sponsored a series of meetings with the interest representation community, with the explicit aim of inviting it to draw up a self-regulatory code. When none appeared to emerge, the Commission issued periodic warnings that tardiness might result in a worse fate of institutionally-designed regulation, indicating that the Commission itself would take the initiative in elaborating minimum rules if self-regulation was not forthcoming. The message was not lost, and a core group of commercial lobby firms in Brussels (initially five, rising to 25) produced, in September 1994, a self-regulatory code which followed very closely the minimum requirements laid down by the Commission in 1992. It read:

In their dealings with EU institutions, public affairs practitioners shall:

(a) Identify themselves by name and company,

(b) Declare the interest represented,

(c) Neither intentionally misrepresent their status nor the nature of enquiries to officials of the EU institutions, nor create any false impression in relation thereto,

(d) Neither directly nor indirectly misrepresent links with EU institutions,

(e) Honour confidential information given to them,

(f) Not disseminate false or misleading information knowingly or recklessly and shall exercise proper care to avoid doing so inadvertently,

(g) Not sell for profit to third parties copies of documents obtained from EU institutions,

(h) Not obtain information from EU institutions by dishonest means,

(i) Avoid any professional conflicts of interest,

(j) Neither directly nor indirectly offer to give any financial inducement to any EU official (since extended to include MEPs and their staff),

(k) Neither propose nor undertake any action which would constitute an improper influence upon them,

(l) Only employ EU personnel subject to the rules and confidentiality requirements of the EU institutions.

The code was quickly adapted by the College of Quaestors for use in the Parliament, changing its previous procedures by issuing passes to those willing to sign it. The advantage of this approach is that it avoided the definitional problem of what constitutes a lobbyist. Nevertheless, the College provided for no enforcement of the code, leaving it completely to the conscience of the visitor.

Although the commercial lobbyists did everything asked of them by the Commission, and virtually all of the eligible constituency signed up to it, the code is somewhat minimalist in scope. Not a single complaint has been filed under its provisions, although lobbyists have been quick to use this as evidence of the absence of any real problem. However, a manager of one firm which signed the code described the scheme as `a fig leaf -- minimal, pointless and complete window dressing'. This minimalism meant that the Parliament would shortly return to seek a higher degree of regulation. Nevertheless, the code has come to be widely adopted by the European institutions, and, most recently, has been adopted by associations seeking to organise across the wider interest representation community beyond commercial lobbyists. Equally, self-regulation of lobbying continues to meet the requirements of the Commission, both because of its need to engage with the interest representation community, and because it offers a solution to its chronic (and by now well-recognised) overload problem. It has expressed its satisfaction with both the terms of the lobbyists code and with the level of signatories, and has sought to secure similar codes public relations firms, and non governmental organisations (NGOs).

As a direct response NGOs created the European Roundtable of Associations and Foundations to represent them in dialogue with the Commission. This established the clear position that any code, rather than being restrictive, should aim at achieving more transparency and openness in contacts with EU institutions and to promote a level playing field between business and NGO interests. This reflected very closely the position of the Commission, for which the issue of regulating interest representation has always been embroiled in a wider set of concerns about the openness and transparency of EU decision-making structures, a level playing field for access to EU decision-making, and the way in which the EU engages in dialogue with outside interests.

These issues were raised most prominently by the 1992 Sutherland Report, which complained of: `intermittent flows of useful information, inadequate prior consultation and the absence of information at each stage of the Community's legislative process ... (such shortcomings) make the whole process unpredictable, leaving the public confused, feeling excluded, and unclear as to the need for and usefulness of community legislation ... wide and effective consultation on Commission proposals is essential. The Commission needs to introduce a better procedure for making people aware, at the earliest possible stage, of its intention to propose legislation.'(3) The report gave rise to a series of initiatives aimed at improving transparency and openness. Although in the first phase these were rather limited and have proved somewhat patchy in their implementation, there is evidence that the issues identified in the Sutherland Report have given rise to a change in culture in the way in which the Commission addresses its interaction with outside interests, not least because of the evident need to focus on a `people's Europe' after attempts to ratify the Treaty on European Union, and the impact of the accession of Nordic countries with an open government tradition. Many of the Commission services now take active steps to seek out the opinion of those interests without elaborate representation structures in Brussels, while the Citizens First campaign is likely to develop into the most significant information campaign to date.

That the problems identified in the Sutherland report clearly struck a chord with the Commission is well illustrated by the words of a Commission official who restated the problem at a 1993 conference with public affairs practitioners on the regulation of interest representation: `There is no general scheme for talking to people representing different interests in the Community. As a result, the development of dialogue had been on an ad hoc, pragmatic basis and many different patterns of dialogue now exist depending on the people involved both inside and outside the Commission.'(4) There is some irony in that both the Parliament (seeking to regulate lobbying) and the Commission (with its traditional concerns to develop liaison with outside interests) have sought solutions to problems which their own lack of information strategies have caused. Although claims of abuses by lobbyists make good parliamentary debating material, if they do exist it is somewhat unfair to blame faults in the system on those who seek to exploit them. However, to some extent, the Commission has sought to use the issues raised by the Parliament as an opportunity to strengthen its access to the views which special interest groups bring, and to address the ad hoc way in which dialogue has developed.

In January 1997, the Commission finally published its long awaited `telephone directory' database of interest groups which interface with the European level. The directory was principally conceived as a measure to promote transparency in the post Maastricht/Sutherland environment as well as broaden dialogue between the European institutions and interests beyond the inner circles active in Brussels. Consequently, the Commission has been marketing the database, including provision of an internet version. Consistent with its own agenda of focusing upon groups and promoting equality of access to European policy-making for a wide variety of groups, the directory does not include commercial lobby firms but provides factual information on groups interfacing the European level. Besides the name, contact details and date of foundation of the organisation concerned, each entry includes information on the names of senior officials and of member organisations, the principal objectives of the organisation, and its legal status and structure. Entry is voluntary, and does not confer or imply any official recognition by the Commission or access to any privileges. Apart from its main purpose, the directory was also a device to respond to attempts by the Parliament to establish an official register of lobbyists where an entry would be part of a strategy to control these actors by making it conditional on good behaviour in return for access to the Parliament.

Despite a core agenda of regulating lobby abuses, the extent to which issues surrounding the regulation of interest representation are part of a broader set of underlying concerns about equality and openness may help to explain why the Parliament returned to the issue after the failure of the Galle proposals to make any headway. Narrowly defined and rather symbolic self-regulation of lobbying standards completely failed to address these wider concerns. Some MEPs have also sought to link the regulation of lobbying as a precondition for the its campaign to obtain further powers. Consequently, it returned to the issue with some vigour after the June 1994 elections.

The Ford Report

Almost immediately following the 1994 elections the Parliament appointed Glyn Ford, a British MEP and member of the socialist group, as rapporteur to bring forward proposals to regulate lobbying. Ford's approach was markedly different from that of the Commission in that he started out with the view that self-regulation is a flawed instrument with which to achieve public goals, and in particular saw the self-regulatory code which had been devised for lobbyists as virtually worthless.

As part of his work, Ford embarked on a study of the rules governing lobbying in the national parliaments of the member states, thereby making the connection between his own work, and issues of standards in public life which has arisen on the agendas of many of the countries over recent years. The report noted that member states with provisions governing the activities of interest groups or their representatives were the exception, although there is evidence that the registration of lobbyists has arisen on national agendas as a result of what has happened at the European level.

Ford did not want to become embroiled in the definitional niceties of what constitutes a lobbyist which had so beset the Galle report. Instead, he proposed an ingenious scheme but of great simplicity. In its original form proposed that:

The College of Quaestors shall issue permanent passes to persons who wish to enter Parliament frequently with a view to supplying information to members within the framework of their parliamentary mandate.

In return, these persons shall be required to sign the register of the College of Quaestors, listing, in particular, their name and trade name and the nature of the activities which they wish to carry out in the Parliament.

This register shall be made available to the public in all of Parliament's places of work and information offices in the Member States.

The persons listed in the register shall draw up on a yearly basis a declaration of their activities, detailing, in particular, any benefits, subsidies, gifts or services of any nature rendered to Members, officials, or assistants.(5)

The approach was therefore based on the idea of incentives rather than defining what constitutes a lobbyist. Anyone who needed to visit the Parliament frequently would find their work made considerably easier by having one of the passes which allows permanent access; the alternative would be to queue for one-day passes to the assembly. Those benefiting would be obliged to sign a register, remit an administrative fee, and make an annual declaration of activities. As well as securing access to certain parts of the Parliament buildings, the pass would allow the holder to secure documents from a special distribution counter. The annual declaration of activities would include all interventions aimed at the Parliament, and any gifts or services rendered to MEPs or others attached to the Parliament in some way, and would be made public.

Ford's strategy was to present a simple scheme which would stand a chance of attracting wide support across the Parliament in the first instance and, once accepted, add further, and possibly more contentious, detail incrementally at a later stage. In this sense, the important factor became not what would be included in the text to be presented to the plenary but what was excluded. For some MEPs, the fear was that the devil would follow later in the detail. These fears were to some extent realised, although not in the manner originally planned by Ford.

Ford's proposals were subject to comment from parliamentary committees, reflecting the views of a number of socialist MEPs who saw the issue in terms of likely conflicts of interests between the parliamentary work of conservative members and their business links. There were calls for a measures related to members' financial interests and, in particular, close vetting of significant donations. Because of the sensitivity of the issue, the May 1995 meeting of the Committee of Rules of Procedure, unusually, was held in private. From this meeting onwards, the Ford Report became concerned not only with regulating the activities of lobbyists, but also with those of parliamentarians, and the incremental extension of its scope in subsequent committee meetings was to prove its weakness. The Ford Report also became linked, and ultimately embroiled, with the Nordmann Report on members. Particularly controversial was the latter's proposal requiring members to disclose assets of moveable and immovable property.

The text of the Ford Report, presented to the Parliament in plenary, differed from its earlier drafts by including a much greater degree of detail on the size of gifts to be declared; the mechanisms of declaration and disclosure; the passes to be worn and the visibility of display; the limitations on the rights of passholders, including access to parts of buildings; the process of annual renewal and the registration fee; the registration of assistants, and the requirement that these sign a statement to the effect that they neither represent nor defend any interest other than those concerned with their duties; and the powers given to the College of Quaestors in implementing the scheme. It thus left itself open to dissent on a number of points of detail.

Although it is constitutionally possible that the Ford Report (focusing on outsiders) and the Nordmann Report (focusing on members) could have been passed independently, the two came to be thought of as a coherent package. Just as the Ford report proposed that lobbyists should declare all gifts to MEPs worth over 1,000 ECU in cash or kind, so the Nordmann Report wanted MEPs to make a similar declaration of all gifts received over this value, with a common mechanism so that the two sides could be matched. In the event, the January 1996 plenary meeting voted both reports back to the Committee on Rules and Procedure for a rethink after an intense debate. Unsurprisingly, disagreement focused on the disclosure of assets and gifts. In the days of acrimony following the vote, Ford presented the situation as not so much a failure to endorse lobby regulation as a failure to assure the public integrity of the Parliament because of the `activities of perhaps a dirty dozen or so members who could bring the entire assembly into disrepute'.(6) He linked the ability of the Parliament to obtain further powers with the proposals concerning disclosure and he contrasted its attempts to gain further transparency in the Council and the Commission with the vote it had just taken.

In the final analysis, this approach proved the right one for the measures to be passed at the second attempt. After seven years of inconclusive debate, the Parliament finally agreed a modified version of the Nordmann and Ford schemes in July 1996. The principal features were that MEPs would be required to make a detailed declaration of professional activities and list all paid activities; that declarations would be available for public scrutiny; that MEPs must refuse any gift, payment or benefit which might influence their vote, and that all other favours must be declared before any relevant debate; and that no MEP may accept financial support or the provision of staff or material except those supplied by the European Parliament. Attempts to ban MEPs from accepting gifts worth more than 600 ECUs had to replaced by a concession to register all `significant' gifts, the interpretation of this to be worked out later. The Ford Report proposed that lobbyists would have to enter a register and sign a code of conduct (subsequently agreed in 1997, based on the one established by public affairs practitioners) in exchange for wearing a pass within Parliament buildings. Codes of conduct for MEPs' assistants, and for intergroups of the European Parliament, remains to be drawn up, but these seem to be developing at a somewhat leisurely pace now that the main thrust of the scheme has been agreed.

Whilst Ford commented that `we have taken a modest but an important step which will throw a powerful public light on the relations between MEPs and lobbyists'.(7) there is, however, little doubt that if the report of the Committee on Rules of Procedure had been presented in its original form, it would have been passed with rather less difficulty than was subsequently experienced, and might ultimately have been more. In the event, what started life as a debate about the regulation of lobbying in the Parliament ended as a highly politicised contest between party groupings over the declaration of members assets and receipt of gifts. By its entry into the political arena, discussions about the management of interest representation had once again descended into populist images of lobbying as shady deals done in dark corners.

As for the issue of the regulation of interest representation, Ford claimed throughout that the scheme would lead to greater transparency. However, one of the dangers of establishing a register system might be that it provides benefits for those who frequently engage the Parliament while disadvantaging others, such as citizens who would be unlikely to register but who also have a cause to pursue. An eleventh hour change defined frequent contact (and therefore the need for registration) as those wanting to enter the Parliament for more than five days a year, thus enabling occasional contact without prior registration. A register may come to confer some accreditation status upon those who are on it, not shared by other groups. Registered groups may also have insider advantages. Although none of the EU schemes currently in circulation deliberately seek to create an `inner circle' of groups with consultative circles status (as in the United Nations), in practice something like this exists for resource rich groups. The difference between the schemes put forward by the Commission and the Parliament is that the former has sought means of ensuring wider-ranging consultation, whereas the latter may further privilege the already privileged.

The activities of the European Parliament have also had an important effect upon the organisation of the interest representation community itself. Apart from stimulating the emergence of groups to represent commercial lobbyists, non-governmental organisations and public relations consultants, there are attempts to establish representative fora across the entire interest representation constituency. At the time of writing two organisations are vying for this title, the European Federation of Lobbyists (EFL), and the Society of European Affairs Practitioners (SEAP), with possibilities of a merger. Draft codes of conduct have emerged from these two organisations, based on that produced by the commercial lobbyists.

Whilst Glyn Ford can undoubtedly be cast in the role of policy entrepreneur identified by Kingdon's model of agenda setting, there is also evidence of the systematic institutional policy-oriented learning between the Parliament and the Commission envisaged in Sabatier's model. The Commission has throughout been highly sensitive to the Parliament's. Equally, some of its concerns have recently been raised in the Parliament, accompanied by measures to facilitate interest representation by public interest concerns and to promote equal opportunities between business and non-business groups. To date, however, the Parliament has been unable to move much beyond the commercial lobbyists own code of conduct in its attempts to regulate lobbying.

It has been said that, in focusing upon lobbying, the Ford and Nordmann schemes are unlikely to tackle situations where some private interests are institutionally involved in European public policy-making. Whilst this is clearer in the case of the permanent bureaucracy of the Commission, resource-rich private interests will be able to use their power to influence some parliamentarians. They are unlikely, therefore, really to address the differential types of insider and outsider status available to interests on the basis of power-dependent resource exchange, not least because the European institutions, in view of their own lack of resources, have become dependent upon the assistance brought by outside interests. `Regulating lobbying cannot restructure the complex patterns of interest intermediation in which the Commission is involved with private interests. Yet the Commission's management deficit means that it is now impossible to undo the complexity of these arrangements.'(8)

Despite the claims made for them, the Ford/Nordmann schemes will do little to achieve a level playing field between producer and non-producer types of interests, or indeed to address some of the wider issues in the ad hoc structure of dialogue with the European institutions identified by the Sutherland Report. They are not primarily about issues of democratic deficit, although their appearance may reflect the same underlying concerns. They should be seen in more limited terms for what they can achieve in maintaining public confidence in the work of the Parliament and in putting its relations with interests on a surer footing.

Despite qualifications, the schemes may be the start of something much more significant. Rhetoric tends to develop its own momentum of action by socialising actors into norms, and providing signals later translated into action. Equally, though recent measures to regulate lobbying are somewhat limited, the way they are linked to broader concerns about the democratic deficit of European institutions or a level playing field between business and non-business interests. The measures described here may yet be the window of opportunity to signal the start of a reorganisation of the way in which the European institutions interface with private interests. The politics of regulation of lobby abuses may be yesterday's game. The agenda for tomorrow in public standards, openness and transparency, remedying the democratic deficit and creation of a Citizen's Europe.

(1) Commission of the European Communities, An Open and Structured Dialogue Between the Commission and Special Interest Groups, CEC: SEC (92) 2272 final; Brussels, 1992, p.4.

(2) Commission of the European Communities (1992), op. cit., p.3.

(3) P. Sutherland, The Internal Market After 1992: Meeting the Challenge, Report to the EU Commission by the High Level Group on the Operation of the Internal Market, 1992, p. 30.

(4) D. Claveloux in A.M. McLaughlin and J. Greenwood, `The Management of Interest Representation in the European Union', Journal of Common Market Studies, March 1995.

(5) European Parliament Committee on the Rules of Procedure, The Verification of Credentials and Immunities, Preliminary Draft Report, 12 April, DOC-EN/PR/ 268/268845,1995b, p. 3.

(6) `Turkey's "gifts to MEPs" Under Fire', Financial Times, 19.1.96

(7) `MEPs tackle influence of Lobbyists', Guardian, 18.7.96.

(8) A.M. McLaughlin and J. Greenwood, loc. Cit., p. 151.
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Author:GREENWOOD, JUSTIN
Publication:Parliamentary Affairs
Date:Oct 1, 1998
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