Should there be a stricter EU-wide Directive on lobbying? In a May 2022 report, European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly set out how EU rules could be tightened to close the “revolving door” between politics and business, with senior politicians and officials often finding jobs as lobbyists after leaving their positions.

However, following the “Uber Files” lobbying scandal in July 2022, the Ombudsman went further and floated the idea of European-wide directive to tighten rules at both Member State and EU level, saying: “As you see with the Uber issue, it wasn’t just the EU administration that was being lobbied, it was member states. Different member states were being, shall we say, picked off… It’s not enough to make sure that lobbying is managed within the Commission. It also has to be managed at [European] Council level, and Member-State level.”

In order to discuss solutions with citizens, Debating Europe, in partnership with Fondazione Cariplo, organised a series of online focus groups with 40 young Europeans to think of ways to regenerate European democracy. The report summarising the output of our focus group discussions was published at Friends of Europe’s high-level State of Europe roundtable event in Brussels on Thursday 27 October.

You can read the report here.

Want to learn more about transparency and accountability in the European Union? Check out our infographic below (click for a bigger version):

What do our readers think? We took some of the comments and ideas on EU political accountability and transparency generated during our focus group discussions and put them to:

  • Emily O’Reilly, European Ombudsman
  • Andreea Năstase, Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASoS) of Maastricht University; her research focus includes public ethics and integrity in the context of EU governance
  • Kelsey Beltz, Managing Director of The Good Lobby, a “non-profit civic start-up committed to equalising access to power for a more plural, inclusive and democratic society”

In terms of political accountability, Niels, a young participant in one of our online focus groups, was disappointed in EU politics. He said:

I think we should reform the election system of Europe. There’s a lack of transparency. If we see Ursula von der Leyen as the Commission President, nobody voted for her. I remember Manfred Weber campaigning. [But] nobody voted for von der Leyen.

Another focus group participant, Mariana, also finds EU politics quite opaque. She told us:

It feels like the people that I’m voting for are not necessarily the people that will be leading me. That transition is not really that transparent. I know the people that I’m electing from my Member State, but I don’t know the people at a higher role, in terms of governing the European Union or the European Parliament.

Next, Karan told us he was concerned about the influence of lobbying on European policymaking. He said:

Political leaders don’t really take the decisions, in fact big corporations and lobby agencies do.

Finally, Mark thought the European Parliament should be much stronger to improve political accountability. He told us:

Certainly, there is a democratic deficit on a European level. It’s quite cynical that the European Parliament is the only institution where members of the EU can vote and send representatives, yet they are restricted in the impact of their decision making.

You can see the responses to these comments in the video at the top of this post!

How can the EU strengthen political transparency and accountability? Is there still a ‘democratic deficit’ in the EU? How can we make European politics a bit clearer? Could corporate lobbying be made more transparent? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

Editorially independent content supported by: Fondazione Cariplo. See our FAQ for more details. Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Commission. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.


71 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    EU-Reform Proactive

    DE Q: “How can the EU strengthen political transparency and accountability?”


    Stats: The EU employs 46,356 people (=’higher echelon’) Plus, add the layers & numbers of all 27 national systems & politicians. What does that amount to?

    Call it ‘Shoestring’? A bureaucratic disaster which nobody can control anymore?

    In the end, will the legal eagles, paper & speeches army finally outnumber the UN structures?

    What is on their minds and on their cards? More laws, more regulations, ever tighter & tighter control?

    The first created illusion was- is:

    “The European Parliament (EP) is the directly elected parliamentary institution of the European Union” As DIRECT as indirect can be? No more questions?
    Which country, politicians, majorities & influentials’ called for a distant USE?

    Lately- too much water in the corridors of the Berlaymont & Strasbourg?

    Remember the year 1797? ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.’?

    Sorry, this never-ending Pan- E- Schengen- magical & corrupted expansion experiment was never my favourite, because it was driven to the extreme (like many other European ideologies before), beyond common logic, common economic issues & too much for any normal stomach to digest.

    Now- please- YOU EU Commissioners, EU parliamentarians, National Ministers, EU think tankers & EU lobbyists kindly tell us how YOU intend to fix it & please don’t ask me/us, who were never apprentices of this political Sorcerer’s magic in the first instant.

    Thank you.

  2. avatar

    Norway and Denmark can teach regarding this matter!

  3. avatar

    The whole EU policy is corrupt tho the bone

  4. avatar

    Dissoudre l’UE et que les nations redeviennent indépendantes.

  5. avatar

    E.U. = EUROPAS UNTERGANG!!!!!!!!!!

  6. avatar

    Abolishing the EU… that is the only way…

    • avatar

      you’re right

    • avatar

      yes, end the Capitalism regime in Europe, for peace and true freedom for the world, the world will only have freedom and peace if the Capitalism regime of the US and allies collapse completely

    • avatar

      good idea

  7. avatar

    Politicians getting caught with dirty cash at their homes, THE OBVIOUS SOLUTION IS TO BAN CASH FOR EVERYONE and force CBDC, eh ?

    • avatar

      They wil probably explain it with this example if one dares to ask questions.

  8. avatar

    The next scandal is already on its way: Where should 30% of the land area be protected? Certainly not where the members of the EU Commission own property. There used to be such a thing as fundamental rights…. apparently no more.

  9. avatar

    Shoot von der Leyen to the moon and make peace with ore Russian friends!

    • avatar

      It’s good that someone always thinks of national interests instead of supporting Ukraine

  10. avatar

    Can? As long as it’s about big money, forget it.

  11. avatar

    Ursula negotiating the Pfizer contract completely on herself, while her husband is working for Pfizer, that’s smelling like really, really, really like …

  12. avatar

    You can’t strengthen what isn’t there..

  13. avatar

    The EU can solve a lot of problems by just disappearing, it won’t cost a cent and everyone can live in peace again.

  14. avatar

    We can completly destroy the EU and build a brand new one but with true human values.

  15. avatar
    JT HK

    Any parliamentary member is taking bribe from the US? There are members with American passport. In China, there is a rule that officials have all their family members holding foreign passport would never be promoted to leadership position. How about EU? As we can see also that Ukraine actor president’s family held foreign passport too. Would these people serving their own country or EU whole-heartedly?

  16. avatar
    JT HK

    Is EU parliamentary/officials taking bribe from the US considered a crime?

  17. avatar

    This case is about coruption!
    Taxes department, justice department etc
    should be with “the eyes” on politicians who are are one of the most tempted by corruption!

  18. avatar

    The spastic EU talks about democracy? I can hear Verhofstadt laughing

  19. avatar

    lol there is no such thing as democracy… they want us to believe that but history events clearly tell otherwise… dictators in Brussel

  20. avatar

    Democracy in Europe? This is a joke, democracy do not exist anymore in Europe.

  21. avatar

    Democracie et europe de parvenus

  22. avatar

    1: dégager les cabinets de conseil….

  23. avatar
    JT HK

    When Europe irrationally fuelling a war between neighbours and risking a third world war, it is unavoidably turning to sceptic.

  24. avatar
    JT HK

    Germany is undergoing a de-industrialization, how can German still pro-Europe?

  25. avatar

    Positiv, not sceptic! But with europeans had never been too easy…

  26. avatar

    Democracy existed when all citizens participated in government obligatory for some period with a modest worker salary and holders of public positions apologised in public for their ruling and for every penny of spending from state money

    • avatar

      never happened.

    • avatar

      The Athenian democracy .The only and true democratic state in history that permitted the creation of modern civilization

    • avatar

      Athenians had “workers salary” I thought they had slaves.

  27. avatar

    Stop censorship, disconnect all personal ties between industry and politicians. Abolish WEF. For starters.

    • avatar

      and get rid off USA banking system, FED EMF bilderbergergroup, ECB, WEF, NATO, WHO…..UN.

  28. avatar

    Je recommande un rappel vaccinal contre l’endoctrinement. Comme la date du rappel semble depassée pour beaucoup, j’insiste pour que tout le monde prenne au moins trois doses de Krisnamurti, deux doses d’Omar Kayam et une dose mais une bonne de Nasredin Houjdah. Les traitements alternatifs et la profilaxie ne doivent pas être négligés : amour, contact avec les animaux et la nature, jardinage, pratique des arts, excercice physique,…Et puis, il faut surtout voir par soi-même, comment contribuer à l’effort de tous pour rendre ses droits à la Vie.

  29. avatar

    As long as USA can print as much $ they want, there is NO democracy. the W.E.F. is paid by the bankers who control all the banks in the world. USA can buy anything in the whole world with extra printed money.

  30. avatar

    That’s not possible if a lot of them comes from non democratique countries.

  31. avatar

    Avec nos ci électroniques, rien de plus facile de demander a chaque citoyen européen son avis en ligne pour chaque sujet.

  32. avatar

    Step 1, get rid of the unelected EU representatives. Step 2, get rid of the EU and make national elections matter again.

  33. avatar

    There is no democracy in EU system.If you want Democracy, you have to EUxit.

  34. avatar

    Regenerating democracy … c’est cela oui. Vous,n’êtes vraiment pas gênés

  35. avatar

    Involve social workers and unions.

  36. avatar

    The only way to regenerate democracy again is that we , the European citizens , would reunite and arm ourselves and start overthrowing that whole corrupt European Commission ! That EC consists of members who are self-enriching , members of an NGO (WEF) and who are implementing their 2 agendas : the ‘Kalergi Plan’ and ‘The Great Reset’ ! If we don’t stop these criminal organizations , our children will NEVER know freedom again ! They want total control over European citizens , link a Digital currency to our Digital ID , put us in a digital prison where we will be monitored 24/24 , fined by a personal carbon-score and force us to regularly take those deadly ‘covid-19’ vaccines ! These are overpaid globalists who are guilty of crimes against humanity and deliberately murdering innocent citizens ! It is time for a revolution ! These are criminals !

  37. avatar

    Well, you would need to get rid of corporate-state corruption and crimes… and have a prosocial, democratic, interest-free credit system and lots of cooperative democratic entreprise. Than, all lobbying should be against the law and politicians would be forbidden to have conflicts of interest. Ow, and public media that have an obligation to give free forum to alternative and critical voices. That kind of radical debate and critical scrutiny is fundamental in a true democracy… the profound censorship during the Covid-1984 scamdemic was a neo-fascist totalitarian disaster. And the policies were frankly genocidal.

  38. avatar

    I have a great idea!How about starting by get rid of unelected burocrats and stop with the obscene salaries with end-of-year 100% “inflation adjustment”?So arrogant!

  39. avatar

    You know, I have a feeling these guys push these “surveys” just to have an idea how awake we are. We know, deep inside, that nothing is going to change.Mahatma Ghandi was right.

  40. avatar

    First step: get rid of European institutions. European institutions are expensive and useless.

    • avatar

      the EHRC is useless?

  41. avatar

    It is surprisingly simple : All politicians 100 % legally responsible for their decisions and hey , presto…true democracy is achieved !

    • avatar
      JT HK

      As popularly elected representatives, all politicians are protected by their popular votes, they are legal protected from all legal responsibility. What European elected politicians doing is turning a blind eye to the collapsing economy, unemployment, rocketing inflation, and flee of capital and enterprises and demonstrations all over Europe, yet draining European resources and military support to Ukraine. We should ask what “people” these politicians are representing?

    • avatar

      they work for W.E.F.

    • avatar

      and you work for Qanon?

    • avatar

      No for your mom.

  42. avatar

    Democracy is the world’s biggest hoax, ever. There is no such thing.

  43. avatar

    “Europe” and “democracy” don’t really go well together… The more “Europe” we got the more democracy we lost…

  44. avatar

    Stop sendig wapon to a land who’s not naming deel from our system. If a war comes is Europe coming te short likely.It’s time to think about ourself.Helping is not to self distroy. Investing in all kind of negotiation is the way to go.

    • avatar

      I agree 100%!!

    • avatar

      A lot less politicians and give power back to the people

  45. avatar

    I’d rather go about smashing the democratic tyranny of Merchandise and restoring order.

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