On Tuesday, the European Parliament negotiators Vice-President Katarina Barley and Member of the Constitutional Affairs Committee Danuta Hübner, Minister of State for Europe at the Federal Foreign Office Michael Roth for the German Presidency of the Council, and Commission Vice-President for Values and Transparency Věra Jourová, took note of progress on several points, during their tripartite meeting to negotiate the Transparency Register. The provisionally agreed elements are fully in line with the commitments expressed at the previous political meetings of 16 June and 6 October, and take into account the differing natures of the signatory institutions.
These elements relate to the structure and resources of the new Transparency Register, as well as to eligibility requirements for interest representatives. In particular, the provisional agreement clarifies that observance of the code of conduct by applicants becomes part of the eligibility criteria. Provisions on monitoring and investigation procedures include the possibility to apply measures in case of non-observance of the code of conduct, and take into consideration also the rights of registrants, by establishing an effective decision-making and review process.
The Secretariat will be a joint operational structure with an adequate number of staff to address the new challenges relating to the functioning of the Register. The three institutions will be on an equal footing, as oversight and governance will be performed by the three institutions’ Secretaries-Generals, who will form the Register’s Management Board. The institutions will share the cost of maintenance and development of the Register proportionally (based on their respective administrative size), through a consensus-driven process.
In this manner, the Transparency Register will be effective in its mission and prepared to tackle future challenges.
On behalf of the German Presidency of the Council, Michael Roth, Minister of State for Europe at the Federal Foreign Office, welcomed the progress made and reiterated the Presidency's determination to finalise this priority dossier:
Transparency is of paramount importance for citizens’ trust in European institutions. The new Transparency register currently under discussion would be a good tool for increasing transparency. The German Council Presidency is fully committed to continuing its constructive engagement with the European Parliament and the European Commission, with the ambition to conclude the file by the end of this year. The preliminary agreement reached today on several substantial provisions paves the way for a positive outcome. We hope that a spirit of mutual understanding and compromise will help to find sound solutions to the remaining open issues.
Following a discussion on the cornerstone of the new agreement, i.e. the principle whereby registration in the Transparency Register is a necessary precondition for interest representatives to carry out certain activities within the scope of the agreement, the negotiators agreed that talks at technical level should continue. The representatives of the three EU institutions remain hopeful that a final agreement can be reached before the end of the year, jointly aiming to establish in practice a common culture of transparent and ethical interest representation, delivering the transparency expected by EU citizens.
The European Commission presented its proposal for a new inter-institutional agreement on a mandatory Transparency Register for interest representatives covering the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission in 2016. Since 2011, the Parliament and the Commission have jointly operated a public register for interest representatives aiming to make the EU decision-making process more transparent and accountable. The Council has been an observer to the current scheme since 2014.