1. Austria: Article 4 of the Law introduces a set of definition aimed at clarifying the concept of lobbying activity by establishing the boundaries of the application of the legislation. The legislation affects lobbying consultancies, corporate groups, professional groups and public groups. All interest representatives hired by these sectors are subject to the established rules when trying to influence public holders. Given these categories, lobbying is defined as any organized and structural contact with public office holders aimed at influencing decision-making in the interest of a principal. The legislation covers both, legislative and executive body as well as bureaucratic staff and public officeholders of subnational governments. Despite the extended coverage of the rules, the law presents a range of exceptions. In fact, religious and territorial interest groups and law firms are exempted. Social partners are subject to a limited set of registration requirements, and the exemption on sanctions and role-accumulation.  

2. France: Lobbyists can be:

  1. persons or legal entities governed by private law;
  2. public institutions and groupings with a commercial and industrial activity;
  3. chambers of commerce and industry and chambers of trade, of which a director, employee or member has a main or regular activity of influencing public decision-making, notably the content of a legislative or regulatory act, by interacting with at least one of the following persons: A government official, or a cabinet member; A member of Parliament (deputy, senator), a collaborator of (i) the President of the National Assembly, (ii) the President of the Senate, (iii) a member of the National Assembly, (iv) a member of the Senate or (v) a parliamentary group, as well as the Chambers duty officers; A collaborator of the President of the French Republic; A chief executive, a general secretary or that individual’s assistant, a board or a committee member of an independent administrative or public authority with sanctioning powers; Any person holding a position at which he/she has been appointed by a decree of the Council of Ministers; Some local elected officials holding an office or a mandate, or with a delegation of authority or of signature, Public officials holding a position mentioned in article 2 to 4 of the Council of State decree No. 2016- 19   
  4. The decree on the register of lobbyists specifies the meaning of the phrase “main or regular activity of influencing public decision-making”. Thus, a director, employee or member of a lobbyist, or a lobbyist acting individually, is considered as: Having a main activity of lobbying if he/she dedicates more than half of his/her time to an activity which consists in conducting interventions, on his/her initiative, with the persons listed above in order to influence one or several public decisions; Having a regular activity of lobbying if he/she interacts, at least 10 times within the last 12 months, on his/her initiative, with the persons listed above in order to influence one or several public decisions

3. Ireland: 

  1. The law uses one of the broadest possible definitions of lobbyist: anyone who employs more than 10 individuals, works for an advocacy body, is a professional paid by a client to communicate on someone else’s behalf or is communicating about land development is required to register themselves and the lobbying activities they carry out. That means NGOs and other civil society organizations are just as much subject to the rules as groups representing multinationals or local industries. Any individual, company or NGO that seeks to directly or indirectly influence officials on a policy issue must list themselves on a public register and disclose any lobbying activity. The rules cover any meeting with high-level public officials, as well as letters, emails or tweets intended to influence policy.

4. Lithuania

The term lobbyist refers to a natural or legal person, for or without compensation, attempting to exert influence to have, in the interests of the client of lobbying activities, legal acts modified or repealed, or new legal acts adopted or rejected. The Lithuanian legislation sharply restricts the definition of a lobbyist, and includes only “contract lobbyists” or “professional lobbyists” It is worth mentioning that in 2014 a new draft Law of the Republic of Lithuania on Lobbying Activities was prepared. However, the definitions of lobbying and lobbying activities were not effectively broadened. A lobbyist is described as a natural person or a participant of a legal person, member of a management board or employer, who pursues lobbying activities under the assignment and in the interests of the client. The definition of a “client of lobbying activities” reveals that the assignment may be given not just in the form of a contract, but also in the form of a command by a legal person to their employer, member of the board, or participant. However, as the assignment of the lobbying task is still to be objectively existent, the definitions leave outside the scope of application cases where the owner or another decision maker within the organisation is pursuing lobbying activities himself or herself, which is usually the case in Lithuania. Moreover, the definition of the term lobbying activities is much more narrow: according to the draft, lobbying activities should mean only activities which “exert influence” rather than “attempt to exert influence”, as is provided for in the currently applicable law, although as a general rule, the core of the definition of “lobbying activities” is “an effort to affect what the government does”. It may be predicted that in case the formulation of the draft law on lobbyists and lobbying activities is not changed, the new law will be of no effect, as is the case with its predecessor. To sum up, although both the law in force and the draft law on lobbying activities in Lithuania provide only a single definition of a lobbyist, they capture only a small number of the persons who might act seeking to influence politicians either in the legislative or the executive branch. Lithuania is mostly criticised for having too many exceptions, which allows the “real” lobbyists to bypass the application of the law

5. Poland

The Polish law makes a difference between “lobbying activities” and “professional lobbying activities”, levying higher duties on persons who participate in professional lobbying activities as regards transparency, registration, and integrity rule

Lobbying activity is any activity conducted by legally allowed means, which leads towards the exertion of influence upon the organs of public authorities in the law-making process. Lobbying activity is generally aimed at influencing the public authorities in the law-making process, and professional lobbying activity is a specific form of lobbying activity, carried out for payment, for the benefit of third parties. “Professional lobbying activity” is “gainful lobbying activity conducted on behalf of third parties in order to arrive at the interests of such third parties being taken into account in the law-making process”. This activity may be carried out either by an entrepreneur, or by a natural person under a civil contract with a client . However, professional lobbying activity may be pursued only if the person is included in the register of lobbyists. A person working for his or her own interest does not have such an obligation

The Polish law is much criticised due to its vagueness of definitions, and it is stated that failure to properly define lobbyists and lobbying activities leads to non-compliance or inadequate compliance . On the one hand, the general definition of lobbying in Poland is too broad; on the other hand, the definition of professional lobbying is too narrow. So, both are imprecise . First of all, criticism of the definition of lobbying activities is directed at the fact that every person is entitled by the constitution to participate in the process of law-making (e.g. the right to receive information or a right to petition) and these rights are scrutinised in other laws. Therefore, it is at this point that lobbying legislation enters the area regulated by other laws, unreasonably restricting their use. Furthermore, press or research articles, public statements, and other actions relating to the legislative procedure must be regarded as lobbying activities, because these are intentional actions which at any time may lead “towards the exertion of influence upon the organs of public authorities” . Another group of practical problems lies within the definition of professional lobbying activities. First, it is unclear whether the persons working under contracts in NGOs should fall under the category of professional lobbyist. The same problem arises with lawyers, barristers, and legal advisers, who literally would also fall under the notion of professional lobbyists, as part of their activities is participation in the legislative process. In addition, it is unclear whether representatives of trade unions should register as professional lobbyists, although relations between the parliament, the government, and trade unions have different patterns than regular lobbying activities and are subject to special procedures, such as a tripartite council, and others. Finally, the definition of professional lobbyists in Polish law is criticised as being limited to the activities based on commercial activities or under civil contracts. This means, that regular “in-house” lobbyists, who are employees of the organisation, fall outside the scope of the definition of professional lobbyists . Poland (besides the defectively described relation of lobbyists with the clients of lobbying activities failing to include employment relations) is blamed for an overly vague definition, whereby, without the provision of exceptions, it is unclear whether the law should be applicable in respect of all the participants in the law-making procedure.

6. Slovenia

Lobbying is defined as work of lobbyists who are engaged on behalf of interest organisations in non-public influence on decisions of government bodies, the local authorities and holders of public powers in discussing and adopting regulations and other general documents as well as on decisions of government bodies, the local authorities and holders of public powers in matters other than those subject to judicial or administrative proceedings and procedures carried out in line with the regulations governing public procurement and other procedures deciding on rights and obligations of individuals.

Lobbying means any non-public contact of a lobbyist with lobbied persons that has the aim to influence the contents or procedure concerning adoption of the decisions referred to above hereunder”.

The legislation defines two categories of lobbyists, while the third category is characterised as an exception to lobbying and thus does not fall under the regulation

a) Professional lobbyists

b) Non-professional lobbyists or ’in-house lobbyists’ Number of  persons who lobby in the name of the organisation in which they are employed, but are not professional lobbyists, for example the CEO of a company

Exceptions to lobbying: c) Individuals, informal groups and interest groups that influence public decision-making with the intention of achieving a systemic enhancement of the rule of law, democracy, protection of human rights and fundamental freedom The regulation systematically divides the different categories of lobbyists, resulting in the need for precise assessments of particular cases in practice. Each case needs to be assessed to identify when a concrete situation complies with the definition of lobbying. If the assessment shows that a case demonstrates the elements of lobbying, identification of the lobbied person (the target, a public official etc.) and the lobbyist is necessary.

7. United Kingdom

The lobbying provisions of the Act require any person (corporate or natural) who carries on “the business of consultant lobbying” to be entered in the Register of Consultant Lobbyists. The Registrar is independent from the lobbying industry and government.

A business of consultant lobbying is  A person (legal or natural) carries on “the business of consultant lobbying” if: it works for a fee (“in return for payment”); it lobbies (in plain language) on behalf of a client (“for another person or persons”) a UK government minister (including a junior minister) (a “Minister”) or a permanent/second permanent secretary in the UK civil service (or one of eight other specified “equivalent” UK civil servants) (a “permanent secretary”); and it is registered for VAT. The UK lobbying is “incidental” to a business carried on by it “which consists mainly of non-lobbying activities” - that is, of activities other than lobbying any central government, anywhere in the world, UK local government, any UK devolved administration (Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish) or any EU institution, at any level (so, not just “Ministers”, “permanent secretaries” or equivalents); or it “acts generally as a representative of persons of a particular class or description” - for example, then, it is a trade or professional body - and its UK lobbying is “no more than an incidental part of that general activity”; or  he/she is an individual acting as “an official or member of staff” of a state other than the UK, of a government of such a state or of an international organisation of which the UK and at least one other state are members (for example, the UN); or he/she is an individual acting only as an employee of a person which is itself required to register.

Lobbying” is not directly defined in the Act. Instead, it is described as the making of: “… oral [spoken] or written communications … personally to a Minister of the Crown or permanent secretary relating to - a) the development, adoption or modification of any proposal of the [UK] government to make or amend primary or subordinate [UK] legislation; b) the development, adoption or modification of any other policy of the [UK] government; c) the making, giving or issuing by the [UK] government, or the taking of any other steps by the [UK] government in relation to, - i. any contract or other agreement, ii. any grant or other financial assistance, or iii. any licence or other authorisation; or d) the exercise of any other function of government.”



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