As corporates and financial institutions increasingly expand their lobbying and public affairs capabilities in the European Union and their efforts to affect EU policy, there has been a corresponding effort by EU institutions and policymakers to regulate such activity. Although the EU Transparency Register – the registration and disclosure system for companies lobbying the European Commission and Parliament – technically remains a “voluntary” regime, a series of policy changes adopted last November have led to a transformation in how the Transparency Register operates. Under the European Commission’s new policy, senior EU decision-makers (including Commissioners, their political staff, and top civil servants) may only meet with persons who have registered as “lobbyists” in the Transparency Register, and companies that are not listed in the register can find themselves turned away from crucial meetings. As a result, over the past few months, the number of U.S. companies that have registered has significantly increased, and many U.S. government relations and political law legal and compliance personnel are now trying to understand EU lobbying registration and disclosure obligations.
These policy changes, coupled with other Commission reforms aimed at improving the accuracy of lobbying reports, make it a good time for companies with a stake in EU issues or a presence in Brussels to review their EU lobbying activities and examine whether lobbying registration or additional disclosures may be required. In an article published on May 19, 2015 by Law360, a joint Allen & Overy U.S.-EU political law team provides practical guidance on how U.S. companies and individuals can comply with the Commission’s new policy, with a focus on when lobbying registration may be necessary and tips for navigating the registration process.