Rules and Regulations

In a nutshell, regulations around lobbying can be broadly divided between National, European or International rules. Find out more about these regulations below:

Timeline of development of European Lobbying Regulations:

  • 1996THE BEGINNING OF REGULATION

    The European Parliament regulates for the first time the access of interest groups to its building with a pass system. Each lobbyist was required to register and disclose details about its organisation and the goal of the activities being performed, whilst accepting a code of conduct setting minimal ethical standards.
  • 2005THE EUROPEAN TRANSPARENCY INITIATIVE

    Siim Kallas, the Director-General for Administrative Affairs, Audit and Anti-Fraud launches the European Transparency Initiative (ETI) with the goal of increasing public confidence in the EU institutions.
  • 2008FIRST REGISTRY FOR LOBBYISTS

    The European Commission establishes its voluntary register for lobbyists - The European Commission Register of Interest Representatives - Lobbyists who register now have to abide by a code of conduct and receive important alerts about upcoming Commission proposals. The European Parliament adopted a resolution on the development of the framework for the activities of interest representatives in the European institutions’. The Joint Working Group between the Parliament and the Commission starts to prepare the Inter-Institutional Agreement (IIA).
  • 2011THE INTER-INSTITUTIONAL AGREEMENT

    The IIA is passed launching the Joint Transparency Register (JTR) of the Parliament and Commission, establishing a joint voluntary transparency register. Lobbyists can now register their activities with the Joint Transparency Register Secretariat (JTRS) by providing information about their activity, expenditure, resources and targets. The Secretariat is a department separated from the Commission and the Parliament, and it can now impose temporary suspensions or removals from the registry.
  • 2014COMMISSION IS CALLED TO SUBMIT A NEW PROPOSAL

    The Parliament and the Commission sign a new IIA improving the rules on financial disclosure and the availability of data. The Parliament calls on the Commission to submit a new legislative proposal before the end of 2016. The president of the Commission at the time (Jean-Claude Juncker) pledge to increase transparency in the EU, and later in November the Commission passed a decision that requires Director-Generals to publish on their websites the dates, locations, names and topics of discussion in bilateral meetings, adding that they should only meet organisations or self-employed individuals that are registered with the JTR.
  • 2018A NEW IIA?

    The legislative proposal called for by the Parliament in 2014 was under debate, and in its current form would establish a mandatory register for the activity of lobbyists in the Parliament, Commission and the Council. The proposal also aims to give audit and investigative powers to the JTRS, and assures that the three institutions shall provide the necessary human resources to the Secretariat.
  • 2019NEW RULES OF PROCEDURE FOR MEPs

    In January 2019, MEPs reformed the Rules of Procedure to make it binding for rapporteurs, shadow rapporteurs and committee chairs to publicly list their lobby meetings.

National Lobbying Regulations in EU Member States

Group 1: Statutory Lobbying Regulations (Mandatory Regulation)

002-austria

Austria

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020-belgium

Belgium

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008-france

France

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003-ireland

Ireland

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010-italy

Italy

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001-lithuania

Lithuania

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011-netherlands

Netherlands

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004-republic-of-poland

Poland

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005-united-kingdom

United Kingdom

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006-slovenia

Slovenia

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007-scotland

Scotland

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Group 2: Soft Regulation (Voluntary Systems of registration for Lobbyists)

009-germany

Germany

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Group 3: Self-Regulation (Mechanisms set up by the Public Affairs Community to promote the transparency of lobbying)

021-bulgaria

Bulgaria

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012-croatia

Croatia

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022-cyprus

Cyprus

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013-czech-republic

Czech Republic

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014-denmark

Denmark

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015-finland

Finland

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016-latvia

Latvia

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017-romania

Romania

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018-spain

Spain

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019-sweden

Sweden

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Group 4: No Specific Regulations on Lobbying

023-estonia

Estonia

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024-greece

Greece

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025-hungary

Hungary

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026-luxembourg

Luxembourg

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027-malta

Malta

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028-portugal

Portugal

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029-slovakia

Slovakia

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For more information about lobbying regulation around the EU you can consult the following books or websites:

Regulation of lobbying across the EU Transparency of lobbying in Member States Comparative Analysis Phil Harris and Alberto Bitonti, Lobbying In Europe (Palgrave Macmillan/Springer Nature 2017).
Doris Dialer and Margarethe Richter, Lobbying In The European Union (Springer 2019).
Stanislav Sokur, Report: Lobbying Regulation In Europe: Recent Developments (Since 2014 Up To Now) (2019) <http://apaa.cz/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Lobbying-regulation-in-Europe-since-20141.pdf> accessed 21 November 2019.

For general info relating to transparency regulation, you can consult https://www.transparency.org/
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International Regulation

OECD Principles for Transparency and Integrity in Lobbying

The Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) has released a set of principles on which many lobbying regulations worldwide are based. The OECD suggests that all regulations around lobbying should abide by the following principles:

  1. Definition of lobbyist and lobbying activities targeted by regulation are clear and unambiguous.
  2. Disclosure requirements provide pertinent information on key aspects of lobbyists and lobbying such as its objective, beneficiaries, funding sources and targets.
  3. Rules and guidelines set standards for expected behavior, for example to avoid misuse of confidential information, conflict of interest and prevent revolving door practices.
  4. Procedures for securing compliance are framed in a coherent spectrum of strategies and mechanisms, including monitoring and enforcement.
  5. The organisational leadership promotes a culture of integrity and transparency in daily practice through regular disclosure and auditing to ensure compliance.

Results show that there is a consensus among lobbyists as well as legislators that transparency of lobbying would help alleviate actual or perceived problems of inappropriate influence-peddling by lobbyists. The OECD’s surveys show that the majority of surveyed lobbyists support mandatory disclosure of information. This view is also shared by close to three quarters (74%) of surveyed legislators. 

The OECD further developed a set of 10 different principles revolving around four main areas of action - I. Building an effective and fair framework for openness and access; II. Enhancing Transparency; III. Fostering a culture of Integrity; IV. Mechanisms for effective implementation, compliance and review. 

The principles were the result of a wide consultation in December 2009 with over a hundred stakeholders, including legislators, representatives of the private sector, lobbying associations, civil society, trade unions, think tanks, academics, and international and regional government organisations, and came to be adopted by the OECD Council as a Recommendation in 2010. The Principles reflect experiences of countries with diverse socio-political and administrative contexts and provide guidance to decision-makers in the executive and legislative branches at both national and sub-national levels. The Principles were developed in parallel with the European Transparency Initiative and the Code of Conduct for Interest Representatives of the European Commission.

 

 UN Global Compact Report on Responsible Lobbying

In 2005 the in coordination with the UN Global Compact Initiative, the United Nations have released a report entitled ‘Towards Responsible Lobbying’ which examines issues around political lobbying and proposes a comprehensive framework that companies and NGOs can use to assess the responsibility of their own lobbying activities.

 

The Report defines Responsible lobbying as:

  1. a) Being consistent with an organization’s stated policies, commitments to stakeholders, and core strategy and actions.
  2. b) Advancing the implementation of universal principles and values (such as those embodied in the UN Global Compact) in business practice. All organizations can and should develop responsible lobbying over time through the adoption of a simple Responsible Lobbying Framework.

 

The report also importantly identifies five areas in which business and civil society lobbyists can and should improve public policymaking:

  1. Provide technical and scientific analysis that helps policymakers in increasingly complex policy arenas.
  2. Identify the likely economic, social and environmental impacts of public policies at local, national and global levels.
  3. Act as brokers, synthesising disparate policy positions for officials, easing information flows and seeking potential compromises.
  4. Mitigate the short-term approach to policy-making imposed by electoral cycles, opinion polls, focus groups and institutional rivalries.
  5. Provide a voice for those unable or unwilling to participate in decision-making directly.

International Standards for Lobbying Regulation

The International Standards for Lobbying Regulation are the result of two years of collaborative work with civil society led by Transparency International, Access Info Europe, Sunlight Foundation and Open Knowledge International. The Standards aim at providing clear guidance to policymakers, governments and international organisations that are thinking of or are in the process of enacting lobbying legislation. They also serve as a reference point for civil society organisations to campaign in their countries to ensure that efforts to regulate lobbying are robust, comprehensive and effective.