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eu citizens initiatives.. January 26, 2012

Posted by Bradley in : governance , add a comment

..have a website.

esma consults on draft technical standards on short selling and credit default swaps January 25, 2012

Posted by Bradley in : consultation , 1 comment so far

The consultation on draft technical standards on short selling and certain aspects of credit default swaps began yesterday and lasts until February 13. The Commission seems to have given ESMA over 4 months to provide the advice (from the end of November to the end of March) but it took ESMA two months to develop its consultation and it plans to use 6 weeks or so to finalise its advice. That leaves 2.5 weeks for public input. This is a bit of a contrast to the general lengthening of consultation periods the Commission announced at the beginning of the month.

uk consultation on registration of lobbyists January 20, 2012

Posted by Bradley in : consultation, transparency , add a comment

The Consultation Document is here. The document proposes that a body independent of Government and the lobbying industry should manage the register (a new arm’s length body?). The appropriate definition of lobbying is a central issue. Here are some of the questions posed by the document:

Should in-house lobbyists be covered? Many large companies have employees whose main duties are to lobby on behalf of that company. The Government proposes that only those lobbying on behalf of third parties should be covered by the Register. Given that is clear whose interests they represent, it is not evident that an extension of the register to in-house lobbyists would provide any additional transparency.
Should lobbyists or firms acting on a pro bono basis have an exemption from the duty to register?
Should organisations which engage in lobbying on behalf of interest groups such as Think Tanks and Charities be required to register? If so, how might this be captured in the definition of lobbying or lobbyist?
The Government does not wish to discourage the normal activity between constituents and MPs. Should there be an explicit exemption included in any definition?

critique of uk e-petitions system January 19, 2012

Posted by Bradley in : transparency , add a comment

The House of Commons Procedure Committee has published a report which critiques the Government’s implementation of e-petitions. Here’s an example of the problems the committee identified:

It is wrong for the Government to raise petitioners’ expectations of the e-petitions process to unrealistically high levels. E-petitions may be an easy way to raise awareness of an issue, to receive a response from the Government to a particular concern, or even to have a matter debated in Parliament. They are not, and should not be claimed to be, an easy way to change Government policy or legislation… We recommend that the Government should remove the sentence “e-petitions is an easy way for you to influence government policy in the UK” from its e-petitions website and replace it with a statement that more accurately reflects reality. We propose: “epetitions are an easy way for you to make sure your concerns are heard by Government and Parliament”.

new year, new consultation in the eu January 4, 2012

Posted by Bradley in : consultation , add a comment

The Commission announced yesterday that it is lengthening the consultation procedure from 8 to 12 weeks. And, probably to encourage registration: lobbyists who are registered on the transparency register will get early alerts about proposed initiatives:

The Commission has also introduced an alert service for upcoming initiatives: Organisations that sign up for the Transparency Register, can subscribe to this alert service to get early information on the roadmaps for new initiatives in their fields of interest about one year before there (sic) adoption.

Of course those who aren’t lobbyists aren’t supposed to be on the Transparency Register, and they don’t get the early heads up either. So it’s a bit of a mixed bag. Let’s make life easier for lobbyists if they agree to let us watch them. But it doesn’t seem to do much to encourage more general citizen participation in consultations (which seems to be what the public statements suggest will happen):

The President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, said: “A key part of getting our policies right is listening to the people who will be affected by them. By keeping our consultations open longer we will strengthen the voice of the citizens, businesses and organisations that help us shape our policies for the benefit of all.”