Lobbying in the EU

The register of interest representatives in EU, lobbyists, was announces one year ago. The aim of this register is to e.g. improve transparency, to give European citizens information about different interest groups.

At the moment nearly 2 200 interest representatives have registered to the system, most of them are so called in-house lobbyists and trade associations active in lobbying. There were 24 registered interest groups from Finland. The registration is still voluntary but there are opinions that it should be made obligatory.

At the moment there are two registers, one for EU Commission and the other for EU Parliament. The EU Commission’s opinion is that there should be only one register for all. Some parties are against that. In their opinion the interest representatives in the EU Commission and the Parliament work in a different manner. Also the matter of security rules should be taken into consideration. There are differences in access rights to the buildings of these two parties.

The discussion about different registrations was launched about 5 years ago. Now there is a register, which already is a positive change in culture of transparency and openness in the EU. The advantages of this register are still hard to estimate since this register has been used only one year.

What is lobbying all about?

Lobbying in EU is a way of influencing by communicating with the EU decision makers and officials. There are about 15 000 active interest representatives operating in Brussels. Most of the professional lobbyists are so called in-house lobbyists or representatives of different trade associations.

Lobbying is a very essential part of daily operations in the EU. Lobbyists are important sources of information for the members of the Parliament and they are usually very competent experts in their own branches. A good lobbyist respects the EU rules and presents his/her own ideas in a condensed, reasoned and well-grounded way. He doesn’t ask what the MEP is going to do in favour of his matter.

The estimates are that the expenses of the lobbyists are about 750 – 1 000 million euros per year.

Merja Karjalainen and Pauliina Rahunen

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