Skip to main content

The lobby regulation element of the European Transparency Initiative: Between liberal and deliberative models of democracy

Abstract

The EU's dependence upon exchanges with organised civil society as a proxy for popular participation makes its procedures for participatory governance critical for input legitimacy. The most recent of these is the European Transparency Initiative (ETI). The article examines the development of the lobby regulation element of the ETI, the detail of its operation and the concepts upon which it is founded, in order to consider its potential to contribute to wider goals of participatory legitimacy. The main energies devoted to creating the initiative were spent in the struggle to get it established, with relatively less attention given to the implications of operational issues involved in registration. Although transparency is the main focus, a legacy of predecessor initiatives on interest group representativeness, primarily spatial in concern, remain embedded in the scheme, which place limitations on advocacy-based groups. An alternative regulatory device to representativeness is that of accountability, which can be accommodated within the EU's existing framework of liberal democracy with elements of deliberative overtones, and of which traces can be found in the Code of Conduct associated with the registration scheme.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Notes

  1. Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents.

  2. http://archive.corporateeurope.org/barroso.html.

  3. Kallas ‘Nottingham speech’ (p. 5). This figure can be traced back to a similar figure stated in a European Parliament report in 2003 (European Parliament, 2003), although the report itself did no more than assert this rather than providing a basis for its calculation. These figures have entered into folklore as a result of the frequency with which they have been quoted. When challenged on the 15 000 figure, a Commission spokesperson responded by stating that it was an estimate produced by an external source, and that Commissioner Kallas had always declared the figure as estimated (see www.euractiv.com/en/pa/eu-lobbyists-scramble-exact-numbers/article-173152).

  4. http://euobserver.com/?aid=18597&rk=1.

  5. An (undated, estimated 2007) ALTER-EU brochure describing itself and its work lists CEO as its contact address. In a 7 March 2007 correspondence item (see endnote 9), Wesselius writes to Kallas ‘On behalf of the ALTER-EU Steering Committee’.

  6. De Clerck (2007).

  7. http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/kallas/doc/eti/07a408.tif.

  8. ALTER-EU (undated, c.2007). The quote appears on the penultimate portfolio.

  9. http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/kallas/work/eu_transparency/correspondence_en.htm. The correspondence was last accessed on 22 March 2010, but was archived alongside other web pages of the Barroso 1 Commission in spring 2010, which has the effect of removing them from public view. The author holds a copy of this correspondence for inspection; a list of it as it appeared on Europa is here included in the Appendix.

  10. See, for instance, the Society of European Affairs Practitioners (SEAP) response to the European Commission Communication follow up to the Green Paper ‘European Transparency Initiative’, http://seap.eu.org/linkdocs/ETI_position_paper.pdf, accessed 14 July 2010.

  11. Such as Nokia, still unregistered after 2 years of operation of the register, despite being highly active on the Brussels scene.

  12. The category of registration selected in the European Public Affairs Directory 2007, rather than the available alternative ‘interest groups’.

  13. http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/kallas/speeches_articles/speeches_archives_en.htm, accessed 14 July 2010. See, in particular, the speeches to the European Public Affairs Consultancies Association (25 January 2006) http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/kallas/doc/speech_250106_en.pdf, accessed 14 July 2010; the Society of European Affairs Practitioners (23 April 2007), http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/kallas/doc/speech_230407_en.pdf, accessed 14 July 2010; and the speech to the EU Committee of the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM-EU) on 18 September 2007, http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=SPEECH/07/544&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en, accessed 14 July 2010.

  14. On 6 July 2010.

  15. www.epha.org/a/3247, accessed 5 July 2010.

  16. http://euobserver.com/9/27602, accessed 6 July 2010.

  17. www.euractiv.com/en/pa/chemicals-group-suspended-eu-lobby-register/article-184291, accessed 7 July 2010.

  18. Such as ‘other/other organisations’.

  19. Some revisions to spending disclosure guidelines were made in the October 2009 review for the category of public affairs practitioners (European Commission, 2009).

  20. www.euractiv.com/en/pa/transparency-initiative/article-140650, accessed 7 July 2010.

  21. See, for instance, the 1992 policy paper from the Secretariat of the European Commission, ‘An open and structured dialogue between the Commission and special interest groups’ at http://ec.europa.eu/civil_society/interest_groups/docs/v_en.pdf, accessed 14 July 2010; and the statement by Kallas in 2007 at http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=SPEECH/07/544&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en, accessed 14 July 2010.

  22. See the responses of these organisations to the Commissions consultation on consultation standards, at http://ec.europa.eu/civil_society/consultation_standards/histo_en.htm, accessed 14 July 2010.

  23. https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/transparency/regrin/infos/codeofconduct.do.

  24. https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/transparency/regrin/infos/codeofconduct.do, accessed 14 July 2010.

  25. www.ingoaccountabilitycharter.org/, accessed 14 July 2010.

  26. www.thecompact.org.uk/information/100022/101508/101517/theconsultationandpolicyappraisalcode/, accessed 14 July 2010. ‘Compacts’ are public statements of commitments to standards, which generally (though not always) fall short of legal status.

  27. www.oneworldtrust.org, accessed 14 July 2010.

References

  • ALTER-EU. (undated, c.2007) The alliance for lobbying transparency and ethics regulation. unpaginated.

  • Balme, R. and Chabanet, D (2007) The Alter-EU movement and European governance, www.ceri-sciencespo.com/archive/mai07/art_rbdc.pdf, accessed 24 June 2010.

  • Bovens, M. (2007) Analysing and assessing accountability: A conceptual framework. European Law Journal 13 (4): 447–468.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Chabanet, D. (2007) The regulation of interest groups in the European Union. Paper presented at the CONNEX Thematic Conference on Accountability; 29–30 June, European University Institute Florence, Italy, http://www.eui.eu/RSCAS/e-texts/200706CONNEX-Chabanet.pdf, accessed 17 July 2009.

  • Cini, M. (2008) European Commission reform and the origins of the European Transparency Initiative. West European Politics 15 (5): 743–760.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cullen, P. (2005) Revisiting the civil dialogue: EU NGOs, ratification of the constitutional treaty and participatory democracy. Paper presented at the 9th Biennial Conference of the European Union Studies Association, 31 March – 2 April, Austin, Texas, USA.

  • De Clerck, P. (2007) A matter of interest. Public Affairs News March: 33.

  • European Commission. (2001) European Governance: A White Paper. COM(2001) 428 of 25 July 2001, http://ec.europa.eu/civil_society/ngo/docs/communication_en.pdf, accessed 14 July 2010.

  • European Commission. (2002) Communication from the Commission: Towards a reinforced culture of consultation and dialogue – General principles and minimum standards for consultation of interested parties by the Commission COM(2002) 704 final. 11 December 2002, http://ec.europa.eu/civil_society/consultation_standards/index_en.htm, accessed 15 July 2010.

  • European Commission. (2006a) Greater transparency in EU affairs will strengthen legitimacy. Press release IP/06/562, http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/06/562&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en, accessed 16 July 2010.

  • European Commission. (2006b) Green Paper European Transparency Initiative COM(2006) 194 final. Brussels, 3 May 2006.

  • European Commission. (2007) Communication from the Commission: Follow-up to the Green Paper ‘European Transparency Initiative’. COM(2007) 127 final, Brussels, 21 March 2007, http://ec.europa.eu/transparency/eti/docs/com_2007_127_final_en.pdf, accessed 16 July 2010.

  • European Commission. (2009) Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council. European Transparency Initiative: The Register of Interest Representatives, One Year After. Brussels, 28 October 2009 COM(2009), 612 final, http://ec.europa.eu/transparency/docs/communication_2009_en.pdf.

  • European Parliament. (2003) Lobbying in the European Union: Current rules and practices. Constitutional Affairs Series, AFCO 104 EN, Directorate General for Research, Working Paper, http://ec.europa.eu/civil_society/interest_groups/docs/workingdocparl.pdf, accessed 16 July 2010.

  • European Social Platform. (2000) Response of the platform of European social NGOs; The Commission and non-governmental organisations: Building a stronger partnership. Brussels, 27 April 2000, http://ec.europa.eu/civil_society/ngo/commun/contributions.htm, accessed 14 July 2010.

  • Friedrich, D. (2006) Participatory democracy in the European Union? European governance and the inclusion of civil society organisations in migration and environmental policies. Revised version of paper presented at the Fifteenth International Conference of the Council for European Studies; 29 March– 2 April, Chicago, IL, USA.

  • Jordan, G. and Halpin, D. (2003) Cultivating small business influence in the UK: The federation of small businesses’ journey from outsider to insider. Journal of Public Affairs 3 (4): 313–325.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hood, L. (2009) Critics say Commission's lobbying register must be mandatory to make a difference. Research Research.com, issue 282, 6 August 2009.

  • Kallas, S. (2005) The need for a European Transparency Initiative. Speech to the European Foundation for Management, Nottingham, 3 March 2005, http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=SPEECH/05/130&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en, accessed 24 June 2010.

  • Kallas, S (2007) Lobbying: What Europe can learn from the US. Speech to the American Chamber of Commerce EU Plenary Meeting, 18 September, http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=SPEECH/07/544&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en, accessed 24 June 2010.

  • Kendall, J., Will, C. and Brandsen, T. (2009) The third sector and the Brussels dimension: Trans-EU governance work in progress. In: J. Kendall (ed.) Handbook On Third Sector Policy in Europe: Multi-level Processes and Organized Civil Society. Chapter 16. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.

  • Kingdon, J. (1995) Agendas, Alternative and Public Policies, 2nd edn. New York: Addison Wesley.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kohler Koch, B. (2010) Civil society and EU democracy: Astroturf representation. Journal of European Public Policy 17 (1): 100–116.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lowi, T. (1964) American business, public policy, case-studies and political theory. World Politics 16 (4): 677–715.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Murgado, R. (2010) Explaining transnational NGOs evolution within European governance. PhD proposal Mons: Les Facultés Universitaires Catholiques de Mons (FUCaM).

  • Pitkin, H. (1967) The Concept of Representation. Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Platform of European Social NGOs. (2001) Democracy, governance and European NGOs, http://ec.europa.eu/governance/social-ngos_en.pdf, p. 6, accessed 14 July 2010.

  • Rawcliffe, P. (1998) Environmental Pressure Groups in Transition. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Smismans, S. (2009) The representativeness of organised civil society … generally desired, until defined. Paper prepared for presentation at the conference on ‘Bringing Civil Society in: The rise of representative democracy’, at the European University Institute, Florence, 13–15 March.

  • Steffek, J. and Ferretti, M.P. (2009) Accountability or ‘Good decisions’? The competing goals of civil society participation in international governance. Global Society 23 (1): 37–57.

  • Wilson, J.Q. (1995) Political Organizations. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Appendix A

Appendix A

Table A1

Table A1 List of correspondence with Cabinet Kallas relating to the Commission's register of interest representatives

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Greenwood, J. The lobby regulation element of the European Transparency Initiative: Between liberal and deliberative models of democracy. Comp Eur Polit 9, 317–343 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1057/cep.2010.18

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/cep.2010.18

Keywords

  • European Transparency Initiative
  • lobby regulation
  • interest group representativeness
  • accountability
  • liberal and deliberative democracy