Brussels, 31 January 2017 – On 31 January, the European Public Affairs Consultancies’ Association (EPACA) hosted an event as part of the EPACA Skills Development Programme – A comparative look at various codes of conduct in member states. The event focused on the national codes of conduct of the UK, France, and Ireland, with panellists from the respective national Public Affairs Associations.

The debate served to highlight the different registers and requirements in place in relation to lobbying transparency. The differences can be seen not only at EU level where Member State approaches vary, but also domestically where certain countries – the UK in particular – operate a variety of systems.

In view of this, the potential benefits of a harmonised, mandatory register were outlined by the panel. In addition, it was underlined that those doing the lobbying are often the most active pushing for higher standards of transparency and professionalism. A streamlined system would likely support this push.

However, the issue of definitions remains an overarching issue blocking the successful implementation of transparency structures. In particular, definitions of what lobbying is and which actors are included are far from uniform. Nevertheless, the majority of panellists indicated a preference for as broad a definition as possible to ensure the highest standard of transparency, ethics, and professionalism.