Bursting the Brussels Bubble – New book sets out demands for greater transparency in the EU

26 April 2010

Brussels, 26 April – The ALTER-EU coalition today sets out its road map for greater transparency and accountability in the European Union with the publication of a new book: Bursting the Brussels Bubble – the battle to expose corporate lobbying at the heart of the EU.

The book, written by some of the leading transparency campaigners in the EU, reveals how corporate lobbyists have infiltrated key areas of EU decision making, excessively influencing policy and undermining the democratic process. It assesses the progress made by the European Transparency Initiative – and sets out ALTER-EU's vision of a more democratic and accountable EU.

Speaking for ALTER-EU one of the book's authors, Olivier Hoedeman from Corporate Europe Observatory said: "Bursting the Brussels Bubble is a guide to the murky world of corporate lobbying in the EU, but it also sets out the key steps needed to clean up the lobbying mess. I hope it will serve as a call to action for those who believe that EU decision making must become more transparent and more accountable – that greater democracy must be secured."

ALTER-EU is calling for 10 priority reforms of the Commission and the Parliament with a view to improve transparency, prevent privileged access and influence and protect the public interest.

Key demands are:
- A high-quality, mandatory lobbying transparency register;
- Full transparency and safeguards against corporate capture of Commission advisory groups;
- Effective conflicts of interest rules for Commissioners, Commission officials and MEPs, including closing the 'revolving door' of officials moving into industry lobbying jobs.

Paul de Clerck from Friends of the Earth Europe added: "The book is not just a critique of the current system and its culture of secrecy, undue influence and privileged access. It shows what needs to be done to improve transparency and ethics. It is high time for EU decision-makers to act."

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Copies of the book are available online at www.alter-eu.org/book/bursting-the-brussels-bubble

The Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) is a coalition of over 160 civil society groups, trade unions, academics and public affairs firms concerned with the increasing influence exerted by corporate lobbyists on the political agenda in Europe, the resulting loss of democracy in EU decision-making and the postponement, weakening, or blockage even, of urgently needed progress on social, environmental and consumer-protection reforms. See www.alter-eu.org