Amsterdam, January 14 2005
To: European Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas
Dear Mr. Kallas,
Herewith I would like to bring to your attention the Open Letter titled "European Commission Must Act to Curb Excessive Corporate Lobbying Power", which was sent to Mr. Barroso on October 25th 2004. The letter, in the meanwhile signed by over 260 civil society groups from around Europe, calls for far stricter ethics and transparency requirements around lobbying towards the European Union institutions.
On November 17th the European Commission's department for relations with civil society sent us a response on behalf of Mr. Barroso. The reply outlines the current situation vis-ā-vis lobbying at the EU institutions and it refers to the voluntary codes of conduct developed by the public affairs industry. To our disappointment, the response does not discuss the central point of our Open Letter: the introduction of EU lobbying disclosure legislation. We believe that such legislation is desperately needed. The absence of transparency obligations around lobbying is a serious obstacle to effective democratic scrutiny of EU decision-making.
We forward you the Open Letter because it concerns important issues relevant to your portfolio as Commissioner for Administrative Affairs, and because of the commitment that you expressed during the confirmatory hearings in the European Parliament to improve openness and transparency in European Union decision-making. We hope you will consider the proposals outlined in the open letter and look forward to your response.
We have also forwarded the Open Letter to your European Commission colleagues Margot Wallström and Peter Mandelson, responsible for respectively institutional relations and international trade policies.
Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO)
Note: a full list of signatories is online at http://www.corporateeurope.org/barroso.html
An overview of reactions to the Open Letter that we have received from the Brussels-based public affairs industry is available online at http://www.corporateeurope.org/lobbydebate.html