Bringing Closed-Door Dealings to Light: How Transparency Can Change Lobbying Practices

8 November 09:00 – 11:00

Private interests seeking to influence government decisions, legislation or the award of contracts is part of the policy-making process in modern democracies. Lobbying can improve government decisions by providing valuable insights and data. Yet, experience has shown that lobbying and the extremely powerful financial force behind it can also lead to unfair advantages for vocal vested interests if the process is opaque and standards are lax. The interests of the community are at risk when negotiations are carried out behind closed doors.

Informed voices have argued that recent economic crises were caused, partly, by the influence of specific interests on government decision making. In addition, data is increasingly available to show the rising number of lobbyists and their annual spending. For example, the United States lobbying sector spending has more than doubled between 1998 and 2011, increasing from USD 1.44 billion to USD 3.30 billion. In Europe, the lobbyists register for the European Commission, launched in 2008, received over 2000 registrations within the first 14 months.

Effective lobbying is incredibly nuanced and this panel aims to bring together varying perspectives. The expert speakers and audience participants are encouraged to not only look at what makes up a comprehensive lobbying framework, but to delve deeper and address some of the even more challenging issues that can change the rules of the game, such as: Why do we need lobbyists? Can we live without them? Can lobbyists be blamed for everything? What do lobbyists think about regulatory reform? How do we balance the financial power of some lobbyists (and their clients) with that of (or lack thereof) decision makers and civil society?

In view of the downside risks of lobbying and the impressive mobilisation of private resources, public pressure is rising worldwide to put lobbying regulations on the political agenda. So far, actual experiences are limited. However, all around the world countries are creating new lobbying frameworks and developing or updating regulations to increase transparency. These regulations of lobbying practices both by governments and lobbying associations to increase integrity and transparency is necessary to restore public trust in lobbying. This session aims to analyse the need for lobbying as well as the associated risks in an interactive discussion including the major stakeholders: governments, lobbyists and society. This is especially true for a world still emerging from the 2008 global financial collapse.

Session coordinator’s name:
Julio Bacio Terracino
Policy Analyst
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

Session /Moderator
Ambassador Richard A. Boucher
Deputy Secretary-General
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

Thomas A. Susman
American Bar Association
Disclosing Lobbying Activities: Lessons Learned from the United States

Karl Isaksson
European Public Affairs Consultancies’ Association
The Importance of Lobbying in the European Context

Luiz Dos Santos
Executive Office of the Presidency, Brazil
Effective Regulation of Lobbying

Julio Bacio Terracino
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

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