Europe: a playground for special interests amid lax lobbying rules
What stops special interests, especially businesses, from telling European citizens what they can eat; how much they pay to make a mobile call; what medicines they can take?
According to a new report on lobbying in 19 European countries from Transparency International the answer is: very little. In fact just 7 of the 19 countries assessed have regulation that targets lobbying and, in most cases, this regulation is ineffective.
Although lobbying is an important part of a healthy democracy, the lax rules mean that businesses and other special interests with lots of money and friends in the right places in cities like Brussels, Rome and Berlin can easily influence politicians and the law-making process in their country to put profits before people.
Our new report “Lobbying in Europe: Hidden influence, privileged access” answers the following questions: How do European countries compare in terms of lobbying regulation? Does the public know who is lobbying whom, on what matters and with how much money? Are lobbyists and their targets guided by ethical standards? And does the public have the opportunity to participate in public-decision making?
Our report is the first-ever comprehensive assessment of lobbying across Europe, looking at the quality of responses by both governments and EU institutions to the risks and realities of undue influence in public decision-making.
The report ranks 19 countries and three EU institutions in terms of their overall performance in safeguarding against undue influence and in promoting open and ethical lobbying. It also ranks their performance in three critical and inter-related areas of effective lobbying regulation.