Public Affairs: Soap Box - Chris Whitehouse, MD, The Whitehouse Consultancy

One of the few things that I have consistently agreed with the APPC about is its resolute opposition to lobbyists holding passes to the UK Parliament.

This rule raises levels of transparency and openness and benefits our profession. The same principle must logically apply in Europe.

The Whitehouse Consultancy has withdrawn from the European Public Affairs Practitioners Association following its decision to present a paper in favour of parliamentary passes for lobbyists to the Presidency of the European Parliament. It has done this without the endorsement of the full membership and without acknowledging the existence of contrary opinions within the organisation.

There is no place for such an approach in our profession - nor is there any reason that professional consultants should have preferred access to the decision makers of Europe by virtue of having a pass.

Such a situation reduces the level of accountability in the political system at a time when we need to have more, rather than less, transparency.

Access to decision makers should be based on merit and on the value of one's campaign, not on a system of privilege.

EPACA, which represents somewhat less than one per cent of commercial lobbyists in Europe, has chosen to ignore this.

In failing to secure the endorsement of its full membership on this issue, it has called into question its own accountability, and risks tarnishing the reputation of us all.

I hope that with time it will come to realise the error of its approach and of its position on parliamentary passes. But I will not be holding my breath.

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