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)