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Lobbying Disclosure Laws in France, Germany and the UK

In today's world, lobbyists have become an essential component of the law-making process in most modern-day democracies. Lobbying is an instrument that is widely used by many stakeholders to mold the law, which is to be passed, in a way they want. Lobbying can lead to the development of a nation due to the expertise of the lobbyist but at the same time, it also comes with several flaws.

The fact that there is little to no regulation makes lobbying a dangerous weapon that can lay the entire power of a nation into one man's hands. Lobbying disclosure laws are an attempt to bring transparency to the activities of the lobbyists.

Lobbying Disclosure Laws in France

The lobbying activities in France are regulated by Law on Transparency in Public Life (No. 2013-907 dated 11 October 2013), which was amended by the Law on Transparency, Anti-Corruption, and Modernization of Economic Life (No. 2016-1691, known as Sapin II) on 9 December 2016[i].

This amendment was done to rectify the inadequate regulation of lobbying activities. However, this does not provide for any mandatory lobbyist registration scheme. Both the chambers of Parliament, the Senate, and the National Assembly, have a voluntary registry [ii].

According to Sapin II, the lobbyists are required to submit their information through an electronic registry. All these stakeholders will be required to disclose their identity (or, in the case of corporations or other organizations, the identities of their leadership, and any employee or member in charge of lobbying activities); the scope of their lobbying activities; how many people they employ for lobbying activities; how much money was spent on lobbying activities during the preceding year; and any professional organization, union, or nongovernmental organization that has interests related to the interests represented by the registrant [iii]. This registry would be publicly available, which will show the identities of individuals and organizations regularly engaged in lobbying activity.

Lobbying Disclosure Laws in Germany

There is very little regulation of lobbying in Germany. The German Bundestag (Parliament) keeps a voluntary register for the stakeholders who lobby the government and the parliament.
This register is published every year in the Federal Gazette.

There have been initiatives to setup a mandatory register by the non-profit Parliament Watch.
Approximately 1, 80,000 signatures were submitted by the group to the petition committee of the German parliament for discussion. Whereas, procedure generally dictates that petitions for the adoption of legislation submitted by any person to the petition committee require only 50,000 or more valid signatures when submitted, in order to be debated in the committee and for the requester to be heard[iv]. Also a federal lobbying law that would require registration of all lobbyists has been drafted by the same company, in collaboration with a group called as Lobby Control and a German law firm.

For now the political parties may accept donations without a limit. However, it must be declared in the annual general statement of accounts, separately listing any single-source donation exceeding €10,000.[v]

Lobbying Disclosure Laws in The United Kingdom

Back in 2010, David Cameroon, the then Conservative Party Leader, had stated that Lobbying was the next biggest scandal waiting to happen[vi]. Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning, and Trade Union Administration Act 2014 (the 2014 Act) was introduced in the UK by the then government in 2014[vii]. This act requires a consultant lobbyist to provide their details to a publicly available register.

The register is held by the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyist, and according to the act he is required to be independent of both the government and the industry[viii]. Under section 2(1) [ix]of the act, a person is said to be carrying out the job of a consultant lobbyist if:
  1. In the course of a business and in return for payment, the person makes communications within subsection (3) [of section 2] on behalf of another person or persons,
  2. The person is registered under the Value Added Tax Act 1994, and
  3. None of the exceptions in Part 1 of Schedule 1 applies.

Conclusion
As time passes by lobbying would become a much more common practice due to the growing number of people who want to be included in the law-making. This makes stricter lobbying disclosure laws a necessity for any democracy so that the integrity of it isn’t compromised.

End-Notes:
  1. LOI n° 2016-1691 du 9 décembre 2016 relative à la transparence, à la lutte contre la corruption et à la modernisation de la vie économique (1),
    https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/affichTexte.do?cidTexte=JORFTEXT000033558528 &categorieLien=id
  2. Boring, Nicolas. “France.” Lobbying Disclosure Laws, 1 Mar. 2017, https://www.loc.gov/law/help/lobbying-disclosure/france.php
  3. Boring, Nicolas. “France.” Lobbying Disclosure Laws, 1 Mar. 2017, https://www.loc.gov/law/help/lobbying-disclosure/france.php
  4. Basic Law, arts. 17, 45c; Gesetz über die Befugnisse des Petitionsausschusses des Deutschen Bundestages (Gesetz nach Artikel 45c des Grundgesetzes) [GGArt45cG] [Act on the Powers of the Petition Committee of the German Parliament (Act According to article 45c of the Basic Law)], July 19, 1975, BGBl. I at 1921, http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/bundesrecht/ggart45cg/gesamt.pdf
  5. Gesley, Jenny. “Germany.” Lobbying Disclosure Laws, 1 Mar. 2017, www.loc.gov/law/help/lobbying-disclosure/germany.php#_ftn24.
  6. Andrew Porter. David Cameron Warns Lobbying Is next Political Scandal. 8 Feb. 2010, www.telegraph.co.uk/news/election-2010/7189466/David-Cameron-warns-lobbying-is-next-political-scandal.html.
  7. Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014 (hereinafter Transparency of Lobbying Act), c. 4, http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2014/4
  8. Registration, Office of the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists, https://registerofconsultantlobbyists.force.com/CLR_Search
  9. Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014 (hereinafter Transparency of Lobbying Act), c. 4, http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2014/4

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