The European Parliament this week approved a code of conduct aimed
at regulating the activities of the estimated 3,000 lobbyists operating
in Strasbourg and Brussels.
Passed on 13 May, the amendments to the parliament’s rules of procedure
adopt most of the proposals put forward by UK socialist MEP Glynn Ford
last year (PR Week, 26 July, 1996).
The code includes rules obliging MEPs to list their interests in a
members’ register and to declare any assistance given by lobbyists. It
bans the donation of free gifts to MEPs, although lobbyists can still
offer assistance in cash or in kind, such as funding a fact-finding
mission to another country.
In addition, the code obliges lobbyists to inform MEPs whom they
represent and bans them from trying to gain access to MEPs under false
It also prevents lobbyists from selling parliamentary documents and from
claiming to have an official relationship with the parliament.
New rules on the status of parliamentary assistants were shelved pending
a separate report later this year, while a proposal obliging lobbyists
to submit an annual report of their visits to and from the parliament
Lobbyists who breach the rules, which come into force on 28 May, will be
refused an entry pass to the parliament’s buildings.
Lobbyists have welcomed the new code. Cabinet Stewart managing director
Catherine Stewart, who is also a member of the newly-founded Society of
European Affairs Practitioners, said: ’Most of us comply with those kind
of rules anyway, but what we must make sure is that parliament makes the
register freely available.’
She added that SEAP would also request clarification over rules
governing the sale of documents, since the circulation of official
papers is part of a lobbyist’s everyday work.