27 April 2005 Re: European Transparency Initiative Dear Commissioner Kallas, We are writing to you regarding the European Transparency

Initiative which you launched recently. We very much welcome this long overdue proposal which has the potential to help build confidence in the European political system, and address some of the widespread concerns regarding ‘democratic deficits’ associated with the EU’s institutions and processes. Over the past decade we have been engaged in a programme of independent research into the public relations and lobbying industry in Scotland, the UK and Europe. This work has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) in the UK. We have been encouraged by your recognition of the importance of lobbying as a matter of legitimate concern for the Commission, as well as the wider European public. We have monitored the growth and development of the lobbying industry in the UK and EU and have interviewed a wide range of lobbyists and public relations professionals, ranging across the commercial (consultancy and in-house) and voluntary sectors. This work has broadened our perspective on the issues relating to lobbying. We believe organisations have a democratic right to lobby the Commission and Parliament and they have a right to employ professional advisers. However, the ability to employ advisers is systematically limited by resources. Lobbyists, by definition, work for clients who hire them to pursue their own interests. Commercial lobbying consultancies overwhelmingly work for business interests, who also provide by far the largest proportion of their income. This goes to the heart of concerns about financial resources determining access and influence in the political process. The regulation of lobbying in Brussels could be a significant first step to address these concerns. Our research on lobbying in Scotland and the UK, lead us to conclude that self-regulation is a very weak and inadequate solution to the issue of probity and lobbying influence. It does very little (if anything) to promote transparency and accountability in the political process. Lobbying trade associations exist largely in order to defend the sectional interests of their industries and members – not to enforce transparency or for the benefit of the wider public. Both of the dedicated lobbying trade associations in the UK (APPC and ASPA) have come into existence in the last ten years as a result of media exposure of alleged lobbying malpractice. One of their main aims in practice is to resist proper democratic scrutiny of their activities. SEAP was created when the regulation of lobbying was last on the political agenda in Europe in 1997. Objections to a statutory register of lobbyists usually focus on the difficulty in defining lobbyists and the impracticality of maintaining a register. There is in fact plenty of evidence to suggest that these objections are exaggerated and misplaced. If a statutory register of lobbyists includes all those who lobby then the difficulty of distinguishing between different types of lobbyists becomes less problematic. In Canada and the US (at both State and Federal level) systems of registration have been introduced effectively and efficiently manage a system of disclosure.

It is worth noting that many of the lobbying and public relations consultancies currently active in Brussels are themselves owned by large multinational communication conglomerates. For example, many SEAP and EPACA member agencies have offices in Brussels and elsewhere in the European Union, and are affiliated to, or owned by, communications groups with a global reach. As a result, many of these companies have direct experience of complying with disclosure regulation in North America and could easily draw upon this to help conform with whatever registration scheme the Commission might implement. There is also evidence that these systems are practicable and can make important information available to the public relatively cheaply and effectively by electronic information gathering, storage and retrieval, providing easy access to information for those inside and outside the political system. It is inaccurate to claim that all statutory regulation is cumbersome and ineffective. Of course, such a record would have to be regularly and publicly reported for it to be of any use in promoting transparency or accountability. Such a record could in turn provide the public with information about the political process and increase public confidence in EU institutions. It is important that the Commission is not unduly swayed by the evidence of those with a direct commercial interest in political lobbying. This has been a persistent problem with recent inquiries in the UK. Vested interests should not be allowed to determine the outcome of the Transparency Initiative. We urge you to take public concerns very seriously by attempting to find out what these are and then be guided by them. In addition to lobbying disclosure, it is also clear that there is a need for the Commission to ensure that it is seen to implement a system of consultation and policy making which does not privilege particular interests, At present, as almost every single academic study on the issue concludes, big business gains the most access and the greatest traction from that access. In order to restore public confidence the Commission needs to take urgent steps to ensure that all interests are dealt with on a level playing field We look forward to hearing about developments concerning the Transparency Initiative and hope we can make a positive and helpful contribution to any future discussions or consultation that the commission might hold in relation to these issues. We wish you the very best of luck in taking forward this important work. Yours sincerely

Professor David Miller William Dinan

Dept. of Geography and Sociology Spinwatch