Timmermans must make the mandatory lobby register his key priority

Publication date: 
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
Press release issued by: 
The Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU)

ALTER-EU sets out its priority policies for commissioner-designate Frans Timmermans.

As MEPs prepare to interview the proposed new Commission vice-president, Frans Timmermans today, the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) [1] calls on commissioner-designate Timmermans to make the introduction of a mandatory lobby register his priority. [2]

Timmermans has been handed the portfolio of 'better regulation' and will also act as Jean-Claude Juncker's deputy. His role will include work to coordinate transparency matters across the Commission and to bring forward the proposal for a mandatory lobby transparency register, to which Juncker committed himself in his own parliamentary hearing in July. Such a register would replace the current, flawed voluntary lobby register and would cover the Commission, Parliament and Council. [3]

Max Bank of LobbyControl, a steering committee member of ALTER-EU, says:

“We've waited a long time for the Commission to support a mandatory lobby register and we expect that Vice-President-designate Timmermans will make its introduction a priority. We want to see a speedy timetable for the new register, including immediate steps to oblige more lobbyists to sign up and to ensure that information in the register is comprehensive and reliable.”

Concerns have been raised by civil society groups that the introduction of a dedicated portfolio on ‘better regulation’ risks facilitating corporate lobbying initiatives aimed at cutting rather than improving important legislation needed to protect citizens and the environment [4]. This is why full transparency around, and balance in, interactions with outside stakeholders will be absolutely critical in this portfolio.

Erik Wesselius of Corporate Europe Observatory, a steering committee member of ALTER-EU, says:

“We know that a mandatory lobby register will face opposition from some, including parts of the lobby industry and the lobbying law firms that currently boycott the existing register, all of whom have vested interests in opposing greater lobby transparency. Timmermans should demonstrate to MEPs that he will not compromise on this issue and that his proposal will be water-tight and wide-ranging.”

As well as the commitment to a mandatory lobby register, all new commissioners have been instructed by Juncker to ensure that details of all of their lobby meetings are published on-line. [5]

Pam Bartlett Quintanilla of Access Info Europe, a steering committee member of ALTER-EU, says:

“Proactive transparency is essential for citizens to hold the EU institutions to account and it is right that commissioners publish information about the lobbyists they have met and the topics they have discussed. We welcome Juncker’s commitment to this and expect that Timmermanns will be quick to put Juncker’s words into action.”

Natacha Cingotti of Friends of the Earth Europe, a steering committee member of ALTER-EU, says:

“The new Juncker Commission, Juncker himself and the commissioners-designate, have so far 'talked the talk' on transparency issues. We will be vigilant in the coming months to ensure that they also 'walk the walk' and that their promises are turned into reality.”


Erik Wesselius, Corporate Europe Observatory, email: erik@corporateeurope.org tel: +31 30 2364422

Natacha Cingotti, Friends of the Earth Europe, natacha.cingotti@foeeurope.org tel: +32 2 893 10 23 or  +32-4-9294-8898

Pam Bartlett Quintanilla, Access Info Europe, email: pam@access-info.org tel: +34 699 354 215

Max Bank, LobbyControl, email: m.bank@lobbycontrol.de tel: +49 221 1696507 or +49 163 4568741

Notes for editors

[1] ALTER-EU is a coalition of over 200 civil society groups and trade unions concerned with the increasing influence exerted by corporate lobbyists on the political agenda in Europe. During the elections, ALTER-EU ran the Politics for People campaign at the recent EU elections which gained the support of 180 MEPs, all of whom have pledged to “stand-up against the excessive lobbying influence of banks and big business”.

[2] Juncker's policy priorities: http://ec.europa.eu/about/juncker-commission/priorities/index_en.htm

[3] Mission letter of Frans Timmermans: http://ec.europa.eu/about/juncker-commission/docs/timmermans_en.pdf

[4] https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0M0xUhqPaXiZG5sMnNkVTJRRnc/edit

[5] This is included in all commissioners' mission letters.