FRONT PAGE: Brussels decision on lobbying this month

Lobbyists targeting decision-makers in Brussels could soon see all their meetings recorded. The European Commission will decide by the end of the month whether to back plans to restrict the lobbying efforts of big business in the EU.

European parliament: ruling by 31 May
European parliament: ruling by 31 May

It comes a week after MEPs voted for a voluntary register of lobbyists with details of client fees.
The President of the EC will decide by 31 May whether to go even further. In particular, a decision will be made on whether ‘expert committees and EU officials' will have to log meetings with lobbyists, including ‘off the record' encounters.

The move follows intensive campaigning by health interest group Baby Milk Action, which alleges that food giant Nestlé has taken advantage of unclear lobbying and marketing codes to ‘sweet talk policy makers'.

‘Governments are too heavily influenced by Nestlé,' said Baby Milk Action policy director Patti Rundall.

In the UK, Nestlé is acc­used of targeting the Government with ‘sponsorship and free trips', to promote its powdered baby milk formula. Nestlé denied this. A spokeswoman said: ‘We are totally committed to the protection and promotion of breastfeeding.'

However, Nestlé was this week discovered to have paid for a trip to South Africa by Labour MP Rosie Cooper.

Citigate Brussels MD Thierry Lebeaux said he hoped the rule change would ‘target the mercenaries, not all groups that exert opinion.'

Another Brussels-based lobbyist said that many expert committees would ‘categorically refuse' to make their work public. Enter your main article text here. You may paste from Word by using the 3rd icon in on the 2nd row.

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