Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR)
European section of United Cities and Local Governments

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Governance and citizenship

Transparency Register - 11.05.2015

The EU undermines better law-making
The EU decision to implement the guidelines on the Transparency Register is, in principle, both useful and welcome. However, in its detailed implementation the guidelines are undermining the role of democratically elected local governments and  their representative associations. 

The revised text of the Inter-institutional agreement on the transparency register, having effect from this year, requires for the first time that individual municipalities having a Brussels Office, and their national or pan-European representative associations, must sign this register if they wish to discuss new EU laws that they must deliver on the ground. 

We support the objective of the EU’s Transparency Register – the so called EU Lobby register – to give lawmakers greater insight into the lobbyists and sectoral interest groups with whom they are in contact and to better understand their vested interests: this is an essential aspect of good governance. However, “we don’t agree with this obligation to extend registration to democratically elected governments, addressing the EU institutions via their national and/or pan-European associations. As the closest level of governance to citizens, local governments best represent European citizens and their needs,” says CEMR secretary general, Frédéric Vallier

Municipalities play an essential role in the EU governance since over 60% of the decisions taken by them are directly or indirectly influenced by European legislation.

Participation and consultation are a common feature of governance systems. For example, a proposal for a new law on waste management needs to know the systems, facilities and infrastructures that exist in each of the 28 member states. So in the interest of effective and efficient lawmaking, the EU needs to consult with local government practitioners and their national associations, to ensure further implementation. Nevertheless, “this text effectively disregards the governmental nature of local government as democratically elected tier of government. Local governments cannot be put in the same box as soft drinks producers and car manufacturers,” explains Frédéric Vallier
CEMR and its member associations call upon the European Parliament and Commission to:
  • Recognise the fundamental and principled distinction between representative associations of local and regional authorities on the one hand, and representatives of private businesses, multinational corporations and commercial consultants on the other;
  • Recognise the democratic legitimacy of local and regional governments and their representative associations and their role within a European governance partnership model;
  • Restore the exemption of local and regional governments and their associations from the scope of the Register at the next revision of the inter-institutional agreement; pending that, to amend the implementing instructions.
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