Brussels remains the second most important capital for lobbyists after Washington. While lobbying is crucial to advance political goals, the sector has been tarnished by many corruption scandals. To tackle this situation the EU created a register for lobbyists a couple of years ago. Since it was a voluntary register, it seems that many professionals have decided to remain in the shadows.
The EU Commission has now implemented a new measure: Commissioners will only meet lobbyists who are duly registered. A big step towards greater transparency. However, it should be noted that many political decisions are made by lower level staff at the Commission. Which, in practice could be perceived a gap to the bridged in the near future. Besides, the rule does not apply to members of the parliament.
The reasons aforementioned led the Commission to propose in September 2016 a mandatory register that shall be respected by the Commission, the Council and the Parliament. Therefore, these institutions would have minimum standards of transparency. In practice, policymakers could only meet lobbyists duly registered.
The move begins to be fruitful, once it is estimated that more than 4,000 professionals registered since the Juncker administration addressed the issue. Of course, that these measures had to be accompanied by sanction, in other words, professionals failing to adequately register according to the code of conduct are likely to face suspension of their activities at EU institutions.
Although the set of measures is important to boost transparency, it hard to state that they are enough, once many meetings can take place at restaurants, hotels, and bars. These meetings are hard to track, once lobbyists do not have to pass any id control at EU facilities.