The Commission has been thinking about a new definition of what lobbying is, and what activities would therefore require registration in the register and which would not.

The current definition pertains to all 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…

The new proposed definition would apply to activities which promote certain interests by interacting with any of the three signatory institutions (EC, Council, EP), their members or officials, with the objective of influencing the formulation or implementation of policy or legislation or the decision-making process within these institutions.

The Commission argues that because the register is moving to a “mandatory” system which requires registration to secure meetings with “decision-makers”, the definition of lobbying needs to become more precise. The Commission also argues that while its interaction-based definition of lobbying will be at the centre of the register, it does intend for indirect lobbying activities to be included in the lobby spending declared by registered organisations.

The difference between the two definitions would be the removal of indirect lobbying from the definition. Opponents argue that lobbying is not just direct contacts between lobbyists and officials (phone calls, letters, emails, meetings and the like), it is also indirect work to influence the views of the institutions and their officials: producing research to influence politicians, media campaigns, events and others. According to them it would be a serious step backwards if the definition of lobbying was slimmed down to only include direct interactions. Furthermore, they argue that intermediaries like law firms and lobby firms may conduct direct lobbying on behalf of clients, but also earn substantial fees from the provision of lobbying advice eg. advising on who to meet, the best arguments and tactics to use etc.  Therefore, a definition which ignores this form of lobby strategising would ignore probably the bulk of lobby consultancy work they say. They also argue that it is not just direct lobbying that should be covered by a lobbying definition, but also any indirect lobbying advice and strategy, including that provided by former commissioners, MEPs and officials who have gone through the revolving door.


Add new comment