There is a serious shortfall in transparency, integrity and equality of access within the lobbying process across Europe, according to a report released last week by Transparency International. This has created a need to “foster a culture of integrity among companies and organisations seeking to influence public policy,” says TI.
The report – Lobbying in Europe: Hidden influence, privileged access – suggests that a lack of robust and effective lobbying regulation has contributed to the problem. Only 7 out of 19 countries that TI surveyed had dedicated lobbying regulations and TI argues that many of the regulations in place are unfit for purpose. The report warns that this has resulted in inadequate safeguards against undue influence in public decision-making and states that “unfair and opaque lobbying practices constitute one of the key corruption risks facing Europe, and six out of 10 European citizens consider their government to be seriously influenced or entirely co-opted by a few vested interests.”
In addition to providing recommendations to decision makers on how to improve the regulation of lobbying, the report contains several recommendations for organisations that are seeking to influence public policy.
For example, TI advises firms to “be aware of and comply with all the applicable laws, regulations, rules and codes of conduct concerning lobbying activities” and to “register in all lobby registers in jurisdictions where lobbying is undertaken, including those that are voluntary.”
Going further, TI notes that larger corporates are increasingly doing much of their own lobbying (a process which is often led by senior management). It therefore recommends that all organisations engaging in lobbying should seek to foster a culture of integrity in their lobbying activities. This should include the establishment of “internal policies and procedures for transparent and ethical conduct” which should be “integrated with [the] organisation’s anti-corruption policies and corporate social responsibility commitments”. Such firms may therefore look to review or enhance their existing senior management oversight, staff training and third party due diligence to incorporate such measures.
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