As of 23 June, you now can go online and see the NEW 'EU TRANSPARENCY REGISTER'

The Register is Voluntary. Date of entry into force: 23 June 2011. Both organisation and individual lobbyists may register.

Activities covered : Activities carried out with the objective of directly or indirectly influencing the formulation or implementation of policy and the decision-making processes of the EU institutions, i.e. participating in public consultations, contacting MEPs or EU officials, preparing, circulating and communicating letters, information material or position papers, organising events, meetings or promotional activities and other events to which invitations have been sent to MEPs or EU officials.

Exemptions: Lawyers in connection with the exercise of the fundamental right to a fair trial of a client and social partners as actors in the social dialogue and activities in response to Commission or Parliament's direct request.

What Registration delivers: Details of organisation listed on public register, potential to obtain annual access pass to Parliament

What happens if you don't register: Submissions to public consultations listed as individual rather than representative of the organisation, no annual access passes to Parliament granted. Code of conduct: Annex 4 to the Inter-Institutional Agreement on a Common Transparency Register between the Parliament and the Commission

Sanctions for non-compliance: Written notification acknowledging the facts and their correction, Temporary suspension for up to six months or until rectification of information, Removal from the register ranging from one to two years, Withdrawal of access pass to Parliament.

Financial disclosure: Registrants must provide financial figures for the most recent fiscal year at the date of registration

For professional consultancies and law firms, figures reflect the turnover attributable to activities covered by the register

For in-house lobbyists and trade associations figures are an estimate of the costs of relevant activities.

For non-governmental organisations, think tanks, academic institutions etc. figures cover the overall budget and a breakdown of the main sources of funding.

A fundamental principle of EU democracy is that all citizens are created equal and all should have access to government leaders. Unfortunately there is a perception among many EU citizens that special interests and their lobbyists have access to decision-makers that ordinary citizens lack. This contributes to the widespread belief that middle class EU citizens and those of more modest means are treated unfairly in the political process. In my view it is critically important that we do everything reasonably practical to give EU citizens confidence that their Parliamenty will treat all citizens equitably regardless of whether they are represented by professional lobbyists. Admittedly lobbyists can play an important role in the legislative process and have legitimate rights to participate in that process, just like other EU citizens.

The fact that the EU Transparency Register conditions registration for potentially obtaining an annual access pass to the European Parliament is like conferring a special privilege for lobbyists. In other words by registering lobbyists would benefit de facto from a privileged access which other citizens (not registered) may not have. It is AALEP's view that  all EU citizens have a stake in debates before the European Parliament, not just lobbyists.

Access to the European Parliament and democratically elected MEPs must be made available to all regardless of being registered or not.       

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