(From left to right: Ms. Sherry Perreault, Mr. Norman Eisen, Mr. Janos Bertok, Mr. Daniel Freund)
The High Authority for transparency in public life organized a roundtable on “How to shed light on lobbying through digital tools ?” during the 4th OGP Summit (“Open Government Partnership”), held in Paris from the 7th to 9th December 2016.
As the Bill “Sapin 2” was promulgated in France on the same day, entrusting the High Authority with the management of a lobbyists register, this roundtable enabled experience sharing among institutional and civil society actors.
The panel, moderated by Janos Bertok, Head of Public Sector Integrity Division at OECD, gathered Norman Eisen, former US Ambassador to the Czech Republic and former Special Counsel and Special Assistant to President Obama on the ethical issues, Sherry Perreault, Head of lobbying regulation at Ireland’s Standards in Public Office Commission and Daniel Freund, Head of Advocacy EU Integrity at Transparency International.
Each of the speakers addressed the issues concerning lobbying regulation: comprehension of the law-making process, equity of access to public decision-makers, regaining citizens’ confidence in public officials etc.
Different interventions underlined the profusion of lobbying regulation, displaying a clear trend towards a stricter framework for the relations between public officials and lobbyists. As mentioned in a research carried out by the High Authority, a dozen of countries adopted national legislation establishing mandatory online publicly available lobbying registers since 2005.
Norman Eisen showcased the American situation, where the lobbying rules are in place for over 70 years, but loopholes have been discovered and revealed by civil society and media through digital monitoring tools.
Mentioning more recent legislation, Sherry Perreault and Daniel Freund gave respectively their views on the Irish experience, whose first experiences have enabled to display encouraging perspectives as well as on the register of European transparency, which should soon become mandatory and common for the EU institutions.
The speakers then brought light on the role of digital tools in shedding light on the balance of power, increasing lobbying transparency and preventing ethical breach.
The interactions with the audience highlighted other foreign examples and reiterated that transparency is an essential condition to dispel prejudices and false stereotypes on the influence of lobbyists.
Watch the full video of the session :
Reflecting the importance of issues related to lobbying transparency, this topic was treated by several sessions during the Summit and is present in the “collective actions” associated with the “Paris Declaration” adopted on 7th December 2016 by the OGP Steering Committee.
Extract of “collective actions”:
In the bill that passed in November 2016 on transparency, fight against corruption and modernisation of economic, the Government of France has created a unique online lobbying registry, common to the Government and the Parliament, that will be made available to the public in open data standards. Law now sets a strong obligation for lobbies to declare their identity, their activity and the number of people they employ. The High Authority for Public Life Transparency (HATVP) will be regulating these obligations.
The Government of France will define standards for the availability and the opening of the unique lobbying register, and will share its experience with the Integrity Network members.