The EU has been urged to introduce a mandatory register of interests for the thousands of lobbyists in Brussels. Addressing a seminar in parliament on Tuesday, Jane Mittermaier, of Transparency International, said this was “vitally important” in order to promote openness in the EU institutions. At present a register does exist for the estimated 3000 lobbyists in Brussels but it is voluntary, meaning lobbyists have the freedom to register their interest or not. Mittermaier, who heads the organisation’s EU office, said, “Why should some lobby groups be able to opt out of the register while others do not? ”There is no reason for this.” She added, “I know of some law firms who do not consider themselves as lobbyists and, therefore, do not register their interests. ”But it is patently clear that they are lobbying for their clients.” The conference, organised to mark “International Right to Know Day”, included European ombudsman, Nikiforos Diamandouros, who called on the EU administration to be as “transparent and citizen-friendly as possible.”
As the shortfall on financing the MDGs becomes evident at the Summit in New York, it is also clear that it is time that the world’s leaders agree to jointly fix a small tax on currency transactions. The following from David Hillman of Stamp Out Poverty explains… “how to deliver on commitments to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), particularly relating to health. In this regard, it is imperative to locate and harness hitherto untapped income streams. Why does the Currency Transaction Levy (CTL) have so much potential? Firstly, trading volume in the foreign exchange (FX) market has now topped $1,000 trillion a year. In this financial crisis, unlike most other areas of the finance industry, the FX market is still growing. This provides a very solid base from which the CTL can produce a sustainable and substantial income stream. As well, the market is fully electronic. Collection would be computerised with payment automatic every time a currency trade is settled. Thus it is efficient and inexpensive to implement with little scope for avoidance.