Agencies warm to register

Lobbying register - Lobbyists are preparing to sign up 'in coming weeks'.

Public affairs firms are set to perform a collective u-turn and sign up to a controversial new register for Brussels-based lobbyists.

Agencies have so far been opposed to the register because it requires them to reveal how much they spend lobbying European Union policymakers.

As PRWeek went to press, just two UK-based agencies had signed the 'voluntary register of interest representatives'. This is despite the European Public Affairs Consultancies Association (EPACA) previously urging all agencies to sign up by 15 September (PRWeek, 25 July).

But EPACA - which represents most of the major consultancies in Brussels, including Burson-Marsteller, Edelman, Weber Shandwick and G-Plus - insisted the tide was turning.

Chairman Jose Lalloum said: 'EPACA's advice to its members is to register, and this message has been met with positive feedback. EPACA members are generally preparing to join the register. I anticipate a virtuous circle from consultants in the coming weeks.'

Blueprint Partners is one Brussels public affairs specialist that will sign up. Consultant Rut Rey said: 'Blueprint intends to register but we want to be sure that we do so correctly and will take our time to ensure this.'

Edelman Europe vice-chair Michael Burrell said: 'I think you will find more consultancies registering over the coming weeks. Many consultancies are, correctly in my view, taking time to assemble accurate information. It is more important to register right than to register early.'

But Weber Shandwick Brussels consultant George Candon indicated that the agency was still making its mind up. 'Most consultancies are considering their position and will decide whether to register in due course,' he said.

The European Commission's lobbyists' register launched on 23 June. This week, 30 consultancies or law firms across Europe had signed up but only two of these had a UK head office: Butler Kelly and little-known European financial specialists Hal 9000.

A total of 33 UK-based organisations have signed up including the National Farmers' Union, the Association of British Insurers and Experian.

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