Business is booming for Brussels bubble lobbyists. There were an estimated 30,000 lobbyists working in the Belgian capital in 2014, making it second only to Washington D.C. Many Europeans have a negative view of all this. They worry that large corporations have too much of influence over EU decision-making, and that there is not enough transparency involved.
However, as long as there are proper rules in places to guarantee ethical behaviour, isn’t lobbying a key part of the democratic process? Shouldn’t stakeholders (including business, but also NGOs, activists, charities, etc.) have the opportunity to put forward their case and explain how new legislation will affect them?
Today, we’re continuing our “Ask” series with the European Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly. As European Ombudsman, she deals with issues of maladministration, transparency, whistle blowing, and improper lobbying. She’s tasked with investigating complaints from citizens about poor administration by EU institutions or other EU bodies.
What do our readers think about lobbying in the EU? We had a question from Delay, who thinks lobbyists have far too much influence over EU politics. What would Emily O’Reilly say in response?
We also had a comment from Nikolai, who argues that “One man’s lobbying is another man’s advocacy”. However, he adds that it is important for lobbying to be strictly regulated, and conducted openly and according to the rules. Is that happening at the moment? Is undisclosed or improper lobbying being kept to a minimum in the EU?
Does the EU do enough to regulate lobbying? Do lobbyists have too much influence? Is undisclosed lobbying kept to a minimum? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!