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Politics for People: Demanding Transparent and Ethical Lobbying in the EU

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, April 15 2014

Today the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) launched a campaign called Politics for People that asks candidates for the European Parliament to pledge to stand up to secretive industry lobbyists and to advocate for transparency. The Politics for People website connects voters with information about their MEP candidates and encourages them to reach out on Facebook, Twitter or by email to ask them to sign the pledge.

In addition to the 200 or so civil society groups and academics that are part of ALTER-EU, Politics for People is also supported by dozens of transparency organizations, including the Open Society Foundation and the Sunlight Foundation.

An introductory video explaining the campaign:

One of the proposed solutions to excessive lobbying the campaign asks candidates to support is a mandatory transparency register that all EU lobbyists must join. A transparency register was launched in 2011 but remains voluntary. This allows a great deal of lobbying to occur without any oversight.

A recent report by the Corporate Europe Observatory found that the financial sector spends more than €120 million a year on lobbying in the EU. Their power has impeded financial reform in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.

“Reform has proved difficult,” explains Corporate Europe Observatory's Kenneth Haar, “and these numbers are an important part of the explanation. The financial lobby’s fire power to resist reform has been evident in all significant battles over financial regulation since the collapse of Lehman Brothers.”

The watchdog website LobbyPlag.eu has flagged instances in which text supplied by lobbying companies was copied and pasted word for word into members' proposals.

Correction (April 16, 2014): The original article stated that the Open Society Foundation and the Sunlight Foundation were part of ALTER-EU. They are not, but they do support the Politics for People campaign.

Disclosure: TechPresident's Micah Sifry and Andrew Rasiej are senior advisers to the Sunlight Foundation.

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network and the UN Foundation for their generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.

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