What is the difference between lobbying and corruption? Most people would probably agree that lobbying and advocacy are necessary parts of democracy, carried out by everyone from industry bodies, to trade unions, to anti-war protesters, to environmental NGOs and civil society groups.

However, it’s not uncommon for senior politicians to be given highly-paid positions as consultants immediately after leaving office, relying on their network of contacts to help influence policy. Is such a ‘revolving door’ between the public and private sector open to abuse? Should there be a ‘cooling off’ period, to ensure that the promise of a lucrative lobbying career doesn’t influence decision-making while in office?

In France, members of parliament don’t even have to wait until they’re voted out, they can legally carry out paid lobbying work while holding office. And revolving doors, of course, work both ways: in Portugal, for example, half of all cabinet posts since the country became a democracy in 1974 have been occupied by people from the financial sector.

Earlier in 2015, Transparency International released a report arguing that national lobbying rules in the EU often fall below international standards and best practices, with many European countries completely lacking dedicated lobbying laws or regulations.

Should the rules around lobbying in Europe be tightened up to prevent corruption? What happens when the line is blurred between the two? We had a question sent in by Marijus asking simply: “What is the difference between lobbying and corruption?”

To get a response, we spoke to Ivan Krastev, Chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies, a Bulgarian NGO that carries out research and analysis into issues including corruption and the democratisation of post-Communist countries. Here’s what he had to say:

We also had a comment sent in from Afiq from Malaysia, who argued that the EU should be given powers to step in and tackle corruption at the national level. Did Ivan Krastev think this could be a helpful development in some Member States?

Is some lobbying just a legalised form of corruption? Should the rules around lobbying in Europe be tightened up to prevent corruption? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Ken Teegardin

46 comments Post a commentcomment

  1. avatar
    Paul X

    The problem isn’t with the people doing lobbying, the corruption is with the politicians who then try to push through particular legislation because they are trying to help the old boys network

    In the UK anyone can approach their MP and raise an issue, that is part of the democratic process. Corruption comes into it when an MP takes this issue to parliament knowing full well it is not something that is in the best interest of public …..MP’s are paid a good wage to make balanced decisions and it is them that are being corrupt if they take too much notice of lobbying

    • avatar

      Very good point!

  2. avatar

    If the Lobbyists are making political donations to the people they re lobbying then it looks fishy even if it may be legal, the rule should be you cant make donations to thoe people who you lobby, and thoe who get lobbied cant go and work for those who lobby them. Its common sense that humansget attached, people get attaced to their cellphones, cars, to other people and animals, so ofcourse if someone is meting you regularly and theres friendly conversation ,donations etc. then there is somethig being created where someoe might not be able to make impartial decisions.

  3. avatar
    Jose Quintans

    Yes, starting with transparency over who meets with the government and the contents of those meetings (DE)

  4. avatar
    Dobromir Panchev

    Definitely YES! Today we see that big business owners and the rest of the society have quite different interests and needs. In countries where corruption level is high, money decide instead of people.

  5. avatar
    João Machado

    Corruption can only be eliminated in one way: by removing the root incentives for people to turn corrupt. And that’s money. We need to realize that a Monetary Based Economy will always create corruption (among many many other problems), it’s design promotes it actually. Possible solution: Resource Based Economy.

    So no, rules and laws won’t solve anything, it’s just an endless game of cat and mouse. If we don’t change the root problem, in 20, 30, 100 years we will be discussing the same issues…. like we did for the last hundreds of years, and solved nothing.

    • avatar
      Afiq Aziz

      I would disagree with you. If all countries, goveernment, central bankers, etc, follows the healthy way of economics the world will be much more stable. Back in the 50s-80s the world economy was pretty much stable, except for the oil crisis. What we need is tougher regulations so that banks does not treats our money like garbage. Replacing money with natural resources such as gold would not solve anything. The rich will try to gobble gold as much as possible and since gold is not a renewable resources in which at some point it will fully depleted. What are the poor supposed to do then. The problem we had right now is corruptions and economic policy designed to feed the multinational corporation and billionaires. If we use the correct sound economic policy like post world war 2 era. Our economy will be much more healthier. It is also worth noting that the IMF and World Bank are championing economic reform constantly. What we need is not more economic reform. What we need is using the old way of doing business.

  6. avatar
    Nando Aidos

    Absolutely YES! Not just the rules but the capacity to enforce them! And let some really independent party write the rules!

  7. avatar

    Absolutely YES! Not just the rules but the capacity to enforce them!
    And let some really independent party write the rules!

  8. avatar
    Vinko Rajic

    ” Lobbing is very good way to destroy corruption , you just make it legal and than is that legal business and not corruption ” He could tell that but not myself – Pope Saint John Paul II

  9. avatar
    Vinko Rajic

    This is and similar like this are the biggest problems in the EU , this is the reasons people don’t trust the EU and this and similar like this can destroy the EU :

    Eu should investigate this , I think it could save billions Euros any many people’s lives.

    This is very long story , I hope you are going to read it and answer to it . I am going to make it short but that is not going
    to be easy . I think all those stories are connected and they are part of a giant scam .

    1. EU is not working on to stop maybe the most terrible kind of corruption , corruption that damage human health .
    Big Pharma’s secret payments to corrupt doctors, scientists . An investigation spearheaded by NPR (National Public Radio), Consumer Reports, and ProPublica found that in the three years leading up to its publishing in late 2010, drug companies had settled cases totaling $7 billion for paying doctors to promote drugs. In many cases, doctors were encouraged to prescribe drugs for off-label conditions, or to prescribe expensive drugs when they weren’t actually needed.

    2. Psychiatry has maybe the worst history of scandals . They destroyed many people and they receive big money to do that ,
    they can’t even tell what is “mentally ill” person but they can prescribe medicine for that kind of illness .

    Once again, psychiatrists top the updated Dollars for Docs list of large payments from pharmaceutical companies to individual US clinicians.

    On March 12, the investigative journalism group ProPublica released the names of the 22 physicians who, since 2009, received more than $500,000 from these companies in speaking and consulting fees.

    3. Every year, 30,000 people in the United States die by suicide, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Among those who are diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD), seven out of 100 men and one out of 100 women will commit suicide. For every suicide, there are 11 suicide attempts.

    4 . Just one example on how wrong psychiatry always was : In the United States, approximately 40,000 people were lobotomized. In Great Britain, 17,000 lobotomies were performed, and the three Nordic countries of Finland, Norway, and Sweden had a combined figure of approximately 9,300 lobotomies. Scandinavian hospitals lobotomized 2.5 times as many people per capita as hospitals in the US. Sweden lobotomized at least 4,500 people between 1944 and 1966, mainly women. Some patients died as a result of the operation and others later committed suicide. Some were left severely brain damaged.

    5. Great percentage of homeless people are Schizophrenic and they don’t want to stay in hospitals because they hate
    medications. They have voices in their heads and those voices are for the most : Jesus , Buddha , Angels and all saints
    from the Bible and similar fantasies . Excellent example :

    6. Telepathy = Diagnose for Schizophrenia actually don’t exists or they change it all the time , actually they don’t know what
    Schizophrenia is . Schizophrenia = Telepathy : Hearing voices is a common symptom of severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia. It’s also common for people to hear voices as if they are thoughts entering their mind from somewhere outside themselves. This is not the same as a suddenly inspired idea, which people usually recognise as coming from themselves. These thoughts are not their own and would seem to come from outside their own consciousness, like telepathy.

    7. Religion is created round people that hear voices , it was never any evidence for God , the only thing they have is that people had voices in their heads . They still create religion in the same way like this example in Croatia :

    Catholich church is build on such a people hearing voices like in this video :
    PROBLEM : the truth is like this :
    In the third secret Our Lady has promised to leave a supernatural, indestructible, and visible sign on the mountain where she first appeared.
    Our Lady said: “This sign will be given for the atheists. You faithful already have signs and you have become the sign for the atheists. You faithful must not wait for the sign before you convert; convert soon. This time is a time of grace for you. You can never thank God enough for His grace. The time is for deepening your faith, and for your conversion. When the sign comes, it will be too late for many.”

    8 THE END! I have the evidence and I could solve this enigma . I can give evidence that telepathy works and that I can send and receive voices to other people on the distance of few kilometer . Scientists should investigate my phenomena and work with me , please watch my video :

  10. avatar
    Nigel Daff

    Come on – what sort of question is this – ANYTHING should be done to STOP corruption when and wherever it is!

  11. avatar
    Christodoulos Polycarpou

    Absolutely Come on – what sort of question is this – ANYTHING should be done to STOP corruption when and wherever it is! #Vinko Rajic – W0W you are a ‘deep’ thinker!

  12. avatar
    Alexandre Soares

    Tudo treta …. está tudo montado para o crime compensar ! A legislação , os tribunais e até o cidadão quando afirma ; ” Se lá estivesses , farias o mesmo ” Afinal a corrupção é transversal , começa no P.R. e acaba no coveiro ” Este país é a maior lavandaria de dinheiro da Europa e qualquer delinquente terá como maior desejo , ser julgado nestes tribunais …. Quando uma magistrada afirma ; ” Olhos nos olhos , não vejo corrupção nesta política , nem nestes políticos ” , já nada à a fazer …. Quem quiser justiça , terá que fazê-la por meios próprios !

  13. avatar

    Should lobbying rules across Europe be tightened up to prevent corruption?

    And if my answer is Yes, it will really happen? That’s exactly what should be strictly regulated because corruption swims in the same pond where big business meets big politics.

  14. avatar
    John Von Neijtsedal

    Lobbying by individuals should be banned and replaced by lobbying in open forums, there should be different forums, for example, infrastructure and transport, commerce, medicine, agriculture and fisheries, police and army, etc .every forum should have a forum chairman and forums would generate a weekly or monthly raport, the lobby report is not binding and would have to go to parliament. Parliament alone should decide on independent scientific research. (Universities that are solely funded by the EU, and not by the business)

  15. avatar
    Evangelos Koumentakos

    Are GONGOs considered lobbyists? Are you lobbying us to upheld your position? Seriously now, tranparency is the key and lobbying as such. ..

  16. avatar
    Lino Galveias

    it should be in action to stop blocking the climate deals in Paris and to prevent TTIP!

  17. avatar
    eusebio manuel vestias pecurto

    Welcome Debating Europe to New World European society is tired of terrorists and our adaptation to environmental changes Will be long because we still believe in the European project

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