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Lobbying and influence

A wide range of stakeholders should have a fair and equitable opportunity to contribute to public decision-making, allowing policymakers to decide on the best course of action on any given policy issue.

Public decision-making however may at times only consider the interests of a few, and undue influence can also be exercised without the direct involvement or knowledge of public decision makers or citizens. These challenges increase in today’s environment of information overload, with new mechanisms and channels of influence, such as social media and artificial intelligence tools, and lobbying and influence by foreign actors, including foreign governments and their related entities or individuals.

Lobbying and influence activities that seek to manipulate and deceive decision makers or the broader public, skew democratic processes in favour of narrow interest groups, or intentionally harm the collective interest of societies, can exacerbate economic and social inequalities, bias the outcome of an election, or even lead to deadly policy outcomes.

An ambitious, state-of-the art standard to strengthen transparency and integrity in lobbying and influence 

The 2024 OECD Recommendation on Transparency and Integrity in Lobbying and Influence provides concrete guidance for governments on ensuring lobbying and influence activities support public decision-making while safeguarding integrity, transparency and equity in public decision-making processes.


Concretely, the Recommendation:

  • Covers all actors involved in lobbying and influence activities, including traditional lobbyists, as well as other actors, like businesses, civil society organisations, think tanks, lobbying firms or law firms representing third-party clients, business and trade associations, trade unions, and the natural persons who are mandated to represent these interests, whether or not they receive compensation for their activities.

  • Encompasses the broad toolbox of influence activities that lobbying and influence actors use to engage in public decision-making processes and shape policy discourses. This includes, for example, activities to shape public opinion and policy debates through communications campaigns or influencing journalists, as well as providing contributions to political parties and candidates.

  • Addresses the risks of interference by foreign powers in democratic processes through covert and deceptive lobbying and influence practices, by recommending the disclosure of all lobbying and influence activities conducted by any lobbying and influence actor on behalf of foreign state interests, including foreign governments, foreign political parties, or foreign state-owned and controlled entities. The principles also encourage governments to better account for these risks in their pre/post-public employment regulations.

  • Provides for transparency and integrity rules for all those who are hired to provide advice or consultancy services to the government, for example individual experts or private consultancy firms, to limit the risks of undue influence and conflicts of interest.

  • Provides a framework to support businesses and other influence actors in conducting their lobbying and influence activities in a responsible manner, including ensuring that these activities align with their public commitments on broader environmental, social and governance goals.

The Recommendation’s principles focus on five core actors:


1. Implementing adequate policies to strengthen the transparency and integrity of lobbying and influence activities affecting government decision-making processes.

2. Ensuring transparency and integrity in the lobbying and influence activities of all lobbying and influence actors.

3. Establishing a public integrity framework for public officials adapted to the risks related to lobbying and influence activities.

4. Enabling effective public scrutiny of lobbying and influence activities by civil society "watchdogs".

5. Fostering accountability of lobbying and influence activities through an adequate oversight function

 

Read the Recommendation

Influence in policy-making

Influencing policy-makers is a core part of a democratic system. Lobbyists and advocacy groups bring valuable information to the policy debate. In practice, however, powerful groups can exert influence to further their particular interests, often at the expense of the public interest.

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Trusted Dialogue on Getting Influence Right

Getting influence “right” is a pressing challenge, both for business and government. Businesses are critical actors in the policy-making process. Through their interactions with government, they enable public decision-makers to learn about opportunities and trade-offs, consider the costs and benefits of business, and ultimately facilitate good decision making on a given policy issue.

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To go further

You may want to check these reports:

  • Lobbying in the 21st Century: This report takes stock of the progress that countries have made in implementing the OECD Principles for Transparency and Integrity in Lobbying. It reflects on new challenges and risks related to the many ways special interest groups attempt to influence public policies, and reviews tools adopted by governments to effectively safeguard impartiality and fairness in the public decision-making process.

  • Preventing Policy CaptureThis report exposes how “policy capture”, where public decisions over policies are consistently or repeatedly directed away from the public interest towards a specific interest, can exacerbate inequalities and undermine democratic values, economic growth and trust in government. 

  • Financing DemocracyWhat are the risks associated with the funding of political parties and election campaigns? Why are existing regulatory models still insufficient to tackle those risks? What are the links between money in politics and broader frameworks for integrity in the public sector? This report addresses these three questions.

  • Lobbyists, Governments and Public Trust, Volume 3: This report takes stock of progress made in implementing the 2010 Recommendation on Principles for Transparency and Integrity in Lobbying – the only international instrument addressing major risks in the public decision-making process related to lobbying. The review process found that although there is an emerging consensus on the need for transparency to shed light on lobbying, new regulations are often scandal-driven instead of forward looking. In countries that have regulations in place, the degree of transparency in lobbying varies considerably across OECD members.

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The research

See our country reports, comparative evidence and analysis of international practices:

All resources on the topic

Contact us

Contact the public sector integrity division at:

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