On 28th September 2016, the European Commission proposed a mandatory Transparency Register covering the three EU institutions: the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission, thus fulfilling a key commitment of the Juncker Commission on transparency.
The Commission has already set an example of this commitment by requiring that representatives of stakeholders meetings with their policy-makers to be included in a Public Transparency Register. On that date, the European Parliament called on the Council to take the next step by making registration of all lobbyists trying to influence policy-making in Brussels obligatory.
First Vice-President FransTimmermans stated: "The EU institutions have to work together to regain the trust of the general public. We need to be more open in everything we do. The proposals for a mandatory Transparency Register for Parliament, the Council and the Commission represent a significant step in the right direction. The general public have the right to know who is trying to influence the legislative process of the Union. We propose a very simple rule: that no meeting with the political leaders can be held without previous inscription. Through the Register, the general public will be able to see who they are trying to influence, who they represent and how much money they spend."
The Commission had proposed an Inter-institutional Agreement (IIA), which would put in place a robust system to ensure transparency of stakeholder activities, building on Parliament's current Transparency Register and Commission. The Commission proposed that the three institutions, including the Council, should be subject to the same minimum standards for the first time. Under these proposals, meetings with policy-makers in the three institutions would be subject to prior registration in the Transparency Register. The Commission introduced this standard for its own interactions with stakeholder representatives in November 2014, and there are already about 4,000 new entries in the existing Register.
The Juncker Commission is committed to being more transparent
The proposal also clarifies the activities and bodies covered, strengthens the monitoring and effective implementation of the Stakeholder Code of Conduct, simplifies and improves the quality of the data to be introduced, rationalizes applicable requirements and increases quality control. The Commission proposed increasing the resources available to achieve this objective. People registered with the Registry who do not comply with the Code of Conduct may face a temporary suspension of their interactions with the institutions or the cancellation of their inscription in the Registry.
The Juncker Commission's commitment to greater transparency, as set out in the Policy Guidelines, had already been implemented in a number of ways
The changes proposed to introduce in the Transparency Register are part of the Juncker Commission's broader commitment to reforming EU policymaking. The proposal is part of the intense debate with all stakeholders. Within this debate, it is worth mentioning public consultation, launched on June 1st and lasting for 12 weeks, in which 1,758 responses were received (975 responses from individuals and 783 from organisations). Participants shared their views on the functioning of the current Transparency Register and made suggestions for the design of the future regime.
The Juncker Commission's commitment to greater transparency, as set out in the Policy Guidelines, had already been implemented in a number of ways. Since 1st December 2014, the Commission has published information on meetings of Commissioners, members of their cabinets and the Commission's Directors-General with all representatives of interest groups. In principle, these meetings should only be held with people or entities registered in the Transparency Register.
There has also been greater access to documents relating to the negotiations of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Association (ATCI) with the United States. The Inter-institutional Agreement on Better Lawmaking, signed in April, further strengthens transparency by adopting a series of measures to increase the transparency of the EU's decision-making process, including its secondary legislation. In May 2016, the Commission adopted new rules on expert groups, aimed at strengthening transparency requirements and establishing synergies with the Transparency Register.
The Transparency Register is one of the key tools
In its "Better Regulation" programme, submitted in May 2015, the Commission undertook to subject its policy-making process to a higher level of public supervision and intervention. New mechanisms have already been put in place to collect feedback from interested parties, giving them the opportunity to make their views known to the Commission both in the early stages of the preparation of an initiative, and initial impact assessments, such as after a proposal has been adopted by the Commission, to nurture the legislative process in Parliament and the Council.
In the Register, there are inscriptions from consultancies specialized in public affairs or law firms to professional and commercial groups, NGOs and organisations
The Transparency Register is one of the key tools for implementing the Commission's commitment to transparency. The Register covers all activities aimed at influencing the legislative and enforcement processes of the EU institutions. In 2011, the European Parliament and the Commission jointly created a first Transparency Register. This was updated through an Inter-institutional Agreement (IIA) approved in April 2014 and currently applies only to the two institutions. In the current voluntary Register, there are more than 9,800 entities linked by the corresponding Code of Conduct. In the Register, there are inscriptions from consultancies specialized in public affairs or law firms to professional and commercial groups, NGOs and organisations.