[EU-lobby-data] short introductory text on the project

Olivier Hoedeman olivier at corporateeurope.org
Thu Sep 27 15:30:44 UTC 2012

Hi there, a while ago I wrote a short introductory text on the 
datacrunching project to include in funding applications; I'm 
circulating this to you now as it might be handy when explaining the 
project to colleagues and others.



*lobbytransparency.eu - throwing light on the role of lobbying in EU 

*The issue*
The power of the European Union (EU) has increased considerably in the 
last decade and decisions made in Brussels have far-reaching impacts 
across Europe and the rest of the world. Despite this increased power, a 
democratic deficit remains and many EU citizens feel badly informed 
about and disempowered by decisions made in Brussels. While citizens' 
engagement remains low, the 15,000 or more professional lobbyists active 
in Brussels play a strong role in EU decision-making, with many 
disturbing examples of special interests using their lobbying power to 
achieve disproportionate, undue influence over decisions made in 
Brussels. That is why it is so important to make the role of lobbying in 
EU decision-making more visible, and in particular to show who is 
lobbying, on which issues, on whose behalf and with what kind of budget. 
Civil society pressure resulted in the launch of an EU lobby 
transparency register in 2008 and demands for better transparency led to 
the re-launch of an improved online register in June 2011. A wealth of 
data is available in the register, but its set-up means it is hard to 
access and use. The register therefore does not in itself fulfill the 
need for strong visibility around lobbying in Brussels.


LobbyControl, Friends of the Earth Europe and Corporate Europe 
Observatory (CEO) will launch a new website (working title: 
www.lobbytransparency.eu) that will give European citizens, journalists 
and decision-makers far easier access to hard facts about the role of 
lobbying in EU decision-making. The new website transforms the data from 
the EU's lobby transparency register into easy-to-understand online fact 
sheets. Users will be able to search far more easily, so for instance 
all the information in the register about a specific company is visible 
within seconds. The website (inspired by US websites such as 
www.opensecrets.org) will also enable users to search for data sets, 
such as the biggest spenders in EU lobbying or the amount spent by a 
specific industry sector (eg oil, pharma or defence). It will also offer 
graphic visualisations of key data.

We will launch the website with a workshop for journalists in Brussels. 
We will also publish short, interesting articles that highlight the 
website's potential for uncovering the role of lobbying in 
policy-making. This will encourage journalists, civil society groups and 
others to make use of the website. It will be a powerful tool for 
citizens, journalists and decision-makers to gain access to information 
about who is lobbying to influence EU decisions. This will help enable 
more media coverage, stimulate debate and contribute to the creation of 
a more informed public. For decision-makers, it will enable them to be 
better informed about who is trying to influence the issues they are 
working on, resulting in better decisions.

The current EU lobby transparency register suffers from a number of 
shortcomings. Registration is not mandatory and those who do register, 
often report only limited information. The new website will help expose 
these shortcomings and add to the pressure for better lobby transparency 
rules to enable greater public scrutiny.

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