How much influence do lobbyists have on the German government? A panel of experts has called for greater transparency in this area. Germany has a lot of things to improve.
To fight corruption in top government circles, a Council of Europe expert panel has called for significantly more effort from Germany. Among other things, there is a lack of transparency about how much influence lobbyists have on the German government’s agenda, according to a report by the panel. In the future, therefore, it should be disclosed with whom top politicians have spoken about which topics. By the end of April 2022, Germany is to report to the Council of Europe on the extent to which the binding recommendations have been implemented.
Accordingly, there are to be clear rules for female federal ministers and parliamentary state secretaries to disclose conflicts between their private interests and their office without delay. Female politicians are to be required to disclose information about their financial holdings. A code of conduct for people in high political office should also help prevent corruption. This should include rules on dealing with gifts and lobbyists with integrity. With regard to former top politicians in high economic positions, the report proposes a longer transition period after leaving politics – also because they are sometimes involved in lobbying.
There was criticism of the rules on public access to official documents. The numerous reasons for rejecting a corresponding request and their extensive use were problematic, the report said. The costs of up to 500 euros associated with a request could act as a deterrent and undermine the purpose of the law. The panel called for an independent analysis of the regulation.
The panel also sees room for improvement with regard to the Federal Police and the Federal Criminal Police Office. While the experts praise the institutions for their clear rules on gifts and secondary employment, for example, the protection of whistleblowers should go beyond the secrecy of identity and the vetting of new female employees should be strengthened.
The Council of Europe, based in Strasbourg, France, is responsible for protecting human rights. It is not an organ of the European Union. The Group of States against Corruption was founded in 1999 and has a total of 50 member states, whose commitment to the fight against corruption it assesses at regular intervals. Last year, the experts reprimanded Germany because, in their view, the recommendations of the last report from 2015, for example on how parliament should deal with lobbyists, had been insufficiently taken into account. (dpa)
by Basit Abbasi