Czech branch of Transparency International pushing for law to regulate lobbying

Photo: Kookkai_nak,

The Czech branch of Transparency International has long been pushing for a law that would regulate lobbying in the government and Parliament and on Monday it was able to report the first tangible result in this respect. The Czech government council coordinating the fight against corruption has agreed to prepare a draft legislation regulating lobbying similar to that adopted by the European Commission a year ago. TI’s project manager Radim Bureš says such a law is essential to making the legislative process more transparent.

Radim Bureš,  photo: Transparency International
“Non-transparent lobbying seems to be a problem across Europe and in the Czech Republic there are several laws that were influenced by interest groups that are hard to trace. So the debate on creating a legislative framework for lobbying activities is quite important for our country.”

So what would you like to see done?

“There are three main components. There should be a legal definition of lobbying separating transparent lobbying from non-transparent lobbying, there should be a register of lobbyists, which is not only professional lobbying companies but all interest groups, like Transparency International itself, secondly politicians should have open-diaries of their meetings with lobbyists and thirdly there is the so called legislative footprint – that should reveal which bodies have been consulted in the preparation of a given law and how the views of these different bodies have been implemented in the draft act.”

Photo: European Commission
A similar legislation has been functioning in the European Commission for a year now–how effective is it proving?

“I think it was an important milestone when the European Commission obliged commissioners and director generals to only meet with registered lobbyists and to declare all their meetings with them. As a result you can prepare special IT applications showing who is lobbying whom, how often, how much money is spent on lobbying who has the most frequent contacts with lobbyists and so on. It is important for the public overview of political decision-making and it gives the media quite a strong tool in monitoring political activities.”

Photo: Kookkai_nak,  FreeDigitalPhotos,  CC0 1.0 DEED
Do you see this as a law that would be passed by Parliament or an internal regulation of some sort?

“Certainly there should be a law, but the law can only define the main principles and some of the features may remain on a voluntary basis. I would not favour strong administrative sanctions for a start – I think a lighter version might work better at this moment. ”

What are the chances of this being approved?

“That is always the most difficult question. I really cannot guess, but we have to keep up the pressure and hope for a result in a reasonable space of time. ”