Now is time for MEPs to start tackling corporate lobbying

26 May 2014

More than 1330 MEP candidates signed the Politics for People pledge in the run up to the European Parliament election.

They promised, if elected, to ''stand-up for citizens and democracy against the excessive lobbying influence of banks and big business." This support makes Politics for People one of the most successful civil society pledge campaigns around the 2014 European parliament elections.

165 of these candidates have now been elected and Friends of the Earth Europe and the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) will be working with these MEPs to implement their commitments and start to tackle the problems of corporate lobbying and promote a European parliament which operates in the public interest with strong ethics and transparency rules.

Olivier Hoedeman, member of the ALTER-EU steering committee said: "The strong commitment to our campaign shows that there is growing concern about the impact of corporate lobbyists in Brussels. This creates a unique opportunity for strong progress in transparency and ethics rules to curb undue corporate influence in EU policy-making."

ALTER-EU has put together a briefing for elected MEPs on lobby and transparency issues. Some important decisions on these issues will be made already in the coming weeks and the Politics for People campaign briefing recommends concrete actions which MEPs can take to tackle the excessive lobbying influence of banks and big business.

ALTER-EU demands that MEPs take concrete action on the revolving door issue, a strengthened code of conduct for MEPs, tackling unbalanced Commission advisory groups and the transition to a mandatory lobby register.

Ahead of the election, Friends of the Earth Europe tried to increase the transparency of past decisions taken by the European Parliament, especially on the issues of climate change, fracking and genetically modified crops.

In cooperation with other civil society organisations, we created a website that made MEPs voting records on these issues transparent and accessible. The website attracted thousands of interested citizens from all 28 EU member states and generated intense social media activity. It helped to confront parties standing in the elections with their past voting record, while several candidates used the opportunity to respond to their scores on Twitter.

"The success of the website showed that Europe's citizens want to know what their representatives in Brussels are doing. The newly elected Parliament will play a crucial role in the next years, whether it's on climate action or the EU-US trade negotiations. Friends of the Earth Europe is committed to hold the new Parliamentarians accountable and monitor closely who is standing up for the interests of people and planet," said Fabian Flues.

Changes to the Parliament's internal transparency rules will allow citizens and civil society to better scrutinise the MEP's voting behaviour. In the past, no individual records of the crucial Committee level existed. After a decision by the European Parliament in February this year, voting records for the most important votes will be made available.