Top agencies shun register lobbyists' register

European body calls on members to reverse their stance.

European Parliament: Brussels register launched a month ago
European Parliament: Brussels register launched a month ago

Public affairs firms have been urged to swallow their objections and sign up to a controversial new register for Brussels-based lobbyists.

At present, the European Commission's new lobbyists' register is being shunned by all major lobbying firms and the vast majority of UK-based companies.

But PRWeek has seen an email sent out by the European Public Affairs Consultancies Association (EPACA) stating that 'the management committee is recommending that EPACA members register, and take the summer time to gather relevant information to do so'.

It adds: 'EPACA members wishing to register could aim for 15 September to do so. It would be a pleasant sign if all those wishing to register did it on that day, although this is not a mandatory call.'

All of the major consultancies in Brussels, including Burson-Marsteller, Edelman, Weber Shandwick and G-Plus, are members of EPACA.

More than four weeks since the 'voluntary Register of Interest representatives' launched, only 23 consultancies or law firms across Europe have signed up - and none of the signatories have a presence in the UK. The only consultancies to sign up are little-known outfits such as Exelcom Public Affairs, Athenora Consulting and Impact Brussels.

More companies and trade associations have signed the register, but only 15 UK-based companies and trade associations have signed up, with the Association of British Insurers and Experian among the few UK bodies to do so.

The European Commission's lobbyists' register launched on 23 June. It is voluntary in nature but any organisation signing up has to disclose how much it spends on lobbying European Union policymakers.

Under the scheme, public affairs consultancies and law firms that engage in lobbying are being asked to name their clients and spell out to the nearest £50,000, or as a percentage of total revenue, how much they receive from them every year.

Companies and trade associations with their own in-house lobbyists are expected to estimate the annual cost of lobbying EU institutions.

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