After tough negotiations, the German Parliament passed the “Law on the Introduction of a Lobby Register for the Representation of Interests vis-à-vis the German Bundestag and the Federal Government” (Lobby Register Law) yesterday. The law will come into force on New Year’s Day 2022.
For decades, the political activities of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), trade associations and companies have been an integral and elementary part of the democratic law-making process. Only in an open and honest exchange of the most diverse positions of experts from NGOs, industry and science policy-makers can balanced and effective laws for the greater good be initiated.
However, clear rules are needed for the representation of interests: They must be based on the overriding principles of openness, transparency, honesty and integrity. Therefore, the majority of parliamentarians in Germany have spoken out in favour of a public lobby register. All lobbyists who contact members of parliament or the federal government will be obliged to register from 1 January 2022, providing further information on their activities (number of employees, annual financial expenditure in the field of lobbying, etc.). In doing so, they also commit themselves to a code of conduct that is being developed by the Bundestag, the federal government and civil society stakeholderrs. Violations of this code of conduct” may result in the withdrawal of access to the German Bundestag and fines of up to 50,000 euros.
The introduction of the lobby register, which had already been established in a similar way at the European level in 2011, is an important milestone that we greatly welcome. It will contribute to strengthening public trust in politics, the representation of interests and the legitimacy of the decision-making process.
However, due to the way in which the register is currently designed, the adopted law can only be a first important step. Many players, including trade unions, employers’ associations, political foundations and church organisations are explicitly excluded and not obliged to register. In order to actually meet the overriding political and societal goal of increasing transparency, the next step must be to oblige all organisations to register, regardless of the specific interests they represent towards political decision-makers. A regulatory patchwork cannot be a permanent solution.
SHOP APOTHEKE EUROPE supports the introduction of the lobby register as well as the associated code of conduct for the representation of interests based on integrity. We additionally comply with our own public affairs policy.