Register of interest representatives: 2020 annual review
The High Authority for transparency in public life unveils its annual review for 2020 of the declarations of activities by interest representatives.
Of the 2,333 interest representatives registered in the digital register managed by the High Authority, 1,849 had until March 31st 2021 to declare their interest representation activities carried out in 2020, as well as the resources allocated to these actions. These are those for which the financial year ended on December 31st 2020. 50% made a declaration within the legal deadline, a result that is significantly higher than the previous year (34%) but still unsatisfactory. After amicable reminders, this deposit rate rose to 85%, compared to 90% in 2019. This decrease demonstrates the need to continue to support interest representatives in mastering the system created by the so-called “Sapin II” law.
Despite the reminders, at the end of June 2021, 279 interest representatives registered in the directory have not made any declaration for the 2020 financial year. Their names were then published on the website of the High Authority, which plans to use the formal notice procedure provided for by law against those who fail to regularize their situation.
The declarations of interest representatives demonstrate a smaller activity in 2020 than in 2019. 10,780 interest representation activities were thus declared, compared with 12,909 the previous year, or 6.9 activities on average per representative of interests, against 8.3 in 2019. In an exceptional context marked by the health crisis, health, agriculture, transport, the budget, support for businesses and energy are the six most declared areas of intervention.
The qualitative improvement in the declarations filed, already observed in 2019, is confirmed in 2020. Like last year, the activity sheets meet the requirements of clarity and readability in nearly 70% of cases. However, the “observations” section remains underexploited (it was only used in 20.5% of cases), while it allows interest representatives to explain their lobbying actions, thus providing more useful and precise information to the citizens.
About a hundred checks are underway in order, on the one hand, to identify non-registered interest representatives and, on the other hand, to verify the content of the declarations. The High Authority reminds that interest representatives must be able to justify all the information and resources declared.
The High Authority made several proposals for changes to the register of interest representatives in its last activity report. These proposals aim to improve the operability and attractiveness of the register:
– Remove the initiative criterion required for the actions to be declared ;
– Simplify the thresholds where registration becomes compulsory, by assessing the minimum thresholds of ten activities at the level of the legal person ;
– Make certain information to be declared more precise, such as the function of the public officials met or the public decision concerned ;
– Clarify the scope of the public decisions that are targeted ;
– Shift from an annual rate to a semi-annual rate of activity reporting ;
– Adapt the extension of the register to local authorities, scheduled for July 1st 2022 (a specific study will be published by the High Authority on this topic in September) ;
– Introduce an administrative sanction for obstructing the missions of the High Authority, in the framework of the control of ethical and declaratory obligations of interest representatives ;
– Entrust the High Authority with its own power of administrative sanction in situations where an interest representative fails to file a declaration.
The High Authority is also carrying out projects aimed at further arousing the interest of citizens: a platform dedicated to lobbying, for educational purposes, is now accessible at the link www.hatvp.fr/lobbying. Internet users can learn about the representation of interests in France and internationally, access thematic analyzes produced from data in the register and thus better assess the impact of lobbying on the normative process.