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Sunrise over Brussels?: an assessment of the European Transparency Initiative

Sommer, Til (2008) Sunrise over Brussels?: an assessment of the European Transparency Initiative.

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Abstract:This paper seeks to assess whether the ETI which is due to be implemented this spring is likely to bring transparency into European lobbying activities and further the legitimacy of lobbyists’ involvement in European policy-making. By linking the concepts of legitimacy and transparency it will be argued that the ETI could indeed achieve its goals. Transparency can help to assure that a political system is not only representative but effective as well, i.e. that it possesses input as well as output legitimacy. Based on these insights, a ‘the more transparency the better ‘rule will be deducted. At the same time, it will be pointed out that full transparency generally is not a viable option which will lead to the adoption of a partial transparency model. An analysis of the general European transparency policy as well as of the European lobbying system will furthermore show that lobby groups are a central and vital element of EU policy-making but that transparency of their involvement is lacking. Therefore it can be argued that the ETI can be based upon a theoretical as well as a practical rationale. The actual assessment of the ETI will primarily take into account experiences from other countries that have already enacted a lobbying regulation. An investigation of five key-issues that are believed to critically affect the effectiveness of lobbying regulation schemes will reveal that the ETI is in fact a rather flawed piece of policy. The lobbying regulation scheme proposed as a central part of the ETI suffers from imprecise definition, insufficient enforcement mechanisms and contains a Code of Conduct that is even weaker than the already existing ones. Furthermore the focus on financial disclosure does not only mismatch the European lobbying system but might also restrengthen widely held prejudices. As a consequence the ETI will not only bring little transparency into lobbying activities but could even further delegitimize lobbying. The ETI is mainly focused on lobby groups. Thus it will, moreover, be analyzed whether this narrow approach is justified by an already strong regulation of the official side? The answer will be negative. Therefore, the paper will be concluded by giving recommendations for improving the European transparency regime. However, it will also be argued that the multi-level, multi-actor structure of the European Union designates narrow limits of what can be achieved by establishing transparency in European Union lobbying. As a result transparency can only be a vital but insufficient element of a more coherent approach towards structuring the relationship between lobby groups and European Institutions.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:88 social and public administration
Programme:Public Administration BSc (56627)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/59189
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