Business interests enjoy ‘near unfettered influence’ in Europe, according to a new report by anti-corruption campaigners.
Transparency International (TI) says ‘select voices with more money could dominate political decision-making’ if tougher laws are not introduced.
It claims post-crisis reform of Europe’s financial sector was ‘thwarted and watered down’ largely down to intense lobbying.
The corruption watchdog also says the ‘revolving door’ between public and private sectors is not being controlled. It claims in Portugal 54 percent of all cabinet posts have been filled by bankers since 1974.
TI also raises concerns about conflicts of interest, such as in France where it says parliamentarians are still allowed to lobby and do consulting work.
“Unfair and opaque lobbying practices are one of the key corruption risks currently facing Europe,” said Elena Panfilova, vice-chair of TI. “European countries and EU institutions must adopt robust lobbying regulations that cover the broad range of lobbyists who influence – directly or indirectly – any political decisions, policies or legislation. Otherwise the lack of lobby control threatens to undermine democracy across the region.”
The report also ranks European countries on whether they have lobbying safeguards in place to protect against undue influence.
Cyprus and Hungary came out worst with 14 percent, with Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal making up the rest of the bottom six.
Slovenia was the best-performer and the only country of 19 assessed to get more than 50 percent.
The European Commission, the executive body charged with running the EU, was the highest-ranking Brussels institution with a 55 percent rating. The European Parliament (MEPs) was given 37 percent and the Council of the EU, made up of the leaders of member states was rated 19 percent.
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