Lobbying and transparency
Every particular interest, provided it is legitimate, has the right to be represented, protected and must be able to participate in the democratic process. It is from this need that the professional figure of the lobbyist was born, i.e. the person who represents the interests of one or more stakeholders and protects them before the public decision-maker. Interest advocacy is a noble action which must be regulated and controlled.
In fact, it is in the dialogue between private and public interest that democracy finds its fulfilment, lobbyists are nothing but a cog in the wheel of democracy and it is no coincidence that the countries where lobbying is formalised are the most democratic ones. Legislative lobbying is nothing but a profession of democracy.
Once this activity has been recognised, it is easy to outline its essential elements, first and foremost transparency: in contexts of major relations with public and private stakeholders, transparency, together with integrity and ethics, are decisive and indispensable elements for an action capable of generating positive results.
Transparency in the European institutions
Within the European framework, lobbying is widely recognised and protected and the European institutions are committed to promoting transparency and ethics in lobbying. Indeed, the EU institutions interact with a wide range of organisations and groups that represent specific interests and carry out lobbying activities.
All interest representatives can provide the Parliament with specific knowledge and expertise in many economic, social, environmental and scientific fields and can play a key role in the open and pluralistic dialogue on which a democratic system is based.
Indeed, they are a legitimate and necessary part of the decision-making process that ensures that EU policies reflect the real needs of society. This process must be transparent, and to ensure this, the European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission have established the Transparency Register to put into practice the EU’s commitment to be open to groups and organisations that seek to influence the design or implementation of its policies and legislation.
The Transparency Register is a database of ‘interest representatives’ (organisations, associations, groups and freelancers) engaged in activities aimed at influencing EU policies and decision-making. The Transparency Register makes it easier for individuals to find information on interest representation activities carried out at the EU institutions, as well as statistical data on all parties entered in the register. In addition, there is a Code of Conduct which regulates how interest representatives interact with the EU institutions and lays down specific principles for persons registered in the Transparency Register. Entry in the Transparency Register is also a necessary condition for an interest representative to be invited as a speaker at public hearings of committees, to support the activities of intergroups and unofficial groupings of MEPs, or to participate in them.
The institutions’ focus on the issue of transparency in lobbying has become even more central after the recent ‘Qatargate’ scandal following which Roberta Metsola presented several reforms to strengthen the already existing European rules on integrity, transparency and accountability by amending the Parliament’s Rules of Procedure. The new rules, which came into force in November 2023, provide for stricter rules on ‘revolving doors’, stipulating a ban on an MEP’s dealings with former MEPs who have been out of Parliament for less than six months, complementing the ban on such activities for former MEPs for the same period. A broader definition of conflict of interest was also introduced to cover as many situations as possible.
Other reforms introduced include hiring more staff to carry out more checks on stakeholders through spot checks in the Transparency Register and making it compulsory for all Members of Parliament to disclose all meetings with third parties.
The Integrity Policy of Meseuro
Meseuro, operating in this context of great relations between private and public stakeholders, has decided, following the new sensibility in Europe and the new parliamentary provisions, to draft its own Integrity Policy, which refers to the contents of the Transparency Register, with the intention of reaffirming and communicating the principles that guide its daily action. This Integrity Policy is observed by the staff and collaborators acting in the name and on behalf of Meseuro, by the suppliers and consultants the company uses, and is shared with customers, so that they can know and appreciate the principles that define Meseuro’s daily operations.
Meseuro’s Integrity Policy also incorporates the specific principles set out in the European Code of Conduct, such as declaring the interests and objectives that are promoted as a company and specifying the customers or members that are represented as well as, if applicable, their registration number. When drafting the Integrity Policy, it was also emphasised that it is of paramount importance to report any conflict of interest situations and to imbue relations with decision-makers with the utmost transparency, cooperation and respect.
These principles of integrity and transparency are also adopted towards customers with whom Meseuro has always been committed to formalised relations with specific and absolutely clear agreements, through an exchange of information that allows the customer to always make informed choices.
Meseuro’s conduct in the field of interest protection aims to comply with European standards and formalise the founding principles of the business such as integrity, transparency, professionalism and legality. With the full implementation of these principles, and those set out in Meseuro’s Integrity Policy document, lobbying will be truly democratic and have the opportunity to ensure that Italian and Union policies reflect the real needs of society. Meseuro attaches a decisive value to the observance of the Integrity Policy and therefore ensures that it is subscribed to by the company’s employees, customers and suppliers.