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Shining a light on EU lawmaking - 23/06/2008

Man and woman carrying folders

A catalogue of bodies seeking to influence EU policy formation opens for registrations on 23 June.

Thousands of representatives from bodies as diverse as NGOs, private companies, law firms and trade unions are in daily contact with staff at the European Commission – the only EU institution entitled to propose new European laws.

Representing the particular interests of their organisation to EU lawmakers, their activities include preparing and circulating letters, information or position papers and organising events.

Such lobbying activities are an important part of a democratic system and ensure policy-makers are aware of how their decisions will impact different sections of the population. The new European register of interest representatives – broadly welcomed by the organisations themselves - is intended to bring more transparency to this field.

Registration is entirely voluntary, but those organisations that choose to sign up will be asked to disclose who they are, their objectives, and their policy areas of interest. Registrants will also be invited to provide information on sources of their funding so that it is clear to all who is behind the lobbying. All information entered will be made public.

Those wishing to be listed in the register must sign up to a code of conduct governing their dealings with Commission staff. The rules ensure all lobbyists are following the same code and are subject to the same independent scrutiny, enforcement procedures and sanctions. There are no privileges attached to registration except for the promise of an e-mail alert when public consultations are launched by the Commission.

The register is part of the European Transparency Initiative- intended to increase accountability, including awareness of how the EU budget is used. It is hoped in future to expand the register to cover the European Parliament and Council of Ministers.

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