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OECD Standards
10 Lobbying Principles

This Recommendations provides guidance in 10 principles for decision-makers on how to promote good governance in lobbying, according to 3 goals:

  1. Building an Effective and Fair Framework for Openness and Access
  2. Enhancing Transparency
  3. Fostering a Culture of Integrity

What is the issue?

Lobbying has the potential to promote democratic participation and provide decision makers with valuable insights and data. However, without transparency and integrity, it can lead to steer public policies away from the public interest, in particular if a small group of powerful interests use their wealth, power or advantages towards unfair advantages.  

While many countries are addressing lobbying related risks, practices to influence public policies have evolved beyond lobbying, and more than half of OECD countries have yet to address risks related to interactions of lobbying groups with public officials. The OECD is working to anticipate and address evolving challenges.

How are we addressing it?

Introduced in 2010, the OECD Recommendation on Principles for Transparency and Integrity was the first international set of guidelines for governments to address concerns over lobbying practices. It calls for equal access to policy discussions by all parties concerned, for enhanced transparency and integrity in lobbying, and for mechanisms of enforcement, compliance and review.

In 2020, the OECD will be publishing a new report on the implementation of the recommendation, in order to review how risks and concerns related to lobbying have evolved.

The impact

The number of countries that have paid attention to lobbying risks has tripled since the OECD Recommendation was introduced. So far, 16 countries have been able to use the recommendation as a reference for improving the requirements around lobbying activities, including France, Chile and Ireland, to name a few.

Apart from lobbying activities a register can address, an OECD database has been also developed that gathers evidence from 102 studies on influence on health policies. The studies reveals recurring methods of influence, such as smoke screens (i.e. diverting the discussion from the initial issue at hand), funding research/organisations to advance private agendas. These practices easily hide beyond the radar of the public and regulators, as they are creative and rapidly evolving.

 

The example of Ireland: the country passed in 2015 the Lobbying Act. As part of this new law, the government provides a web-based open register of lobbyist, and any individual, company or NGO that seeks to directly or indirectly influence officials on a policy issue must register on a public platform and disclose any lobbying activity. The rules cover any meeting with high-level public officials, as well as letters, emails or tweets intended to influence policy. The Act also includes specific provisions on the taking up of certain employments by certain designated officials for a specified period where a potential conflict of interest may arise.

The Irish lobbying regulation “enables stakeholders – including civil society organisations, businesses, the media and the general public – to scrutinise lobbying activities” (OECD, 2010)

You may want to discover more OECD work on Lobbying