European Economic and Social Committee
Directorate A — Legislative planning, relations with institutions and civil society
Brussels, 17 February 2017
MEMO FOR THE FILE
The EU transparency Register and the EESC
Why is the EESC not bound by the EU Transparency Register?
The EU Transparency Register is a joint instrument set up by the European Parliament (EP) and the
European Commission (EC) in 2011 through an Interinstitutional Agreement (IIA), subsequently
modified in 2014. Its aim has been to add transparency to the EU policy- and decision-making
processes, providing citizens and persons working in the EU institutions with information about
interest groups and self-employed individuals engaged in activities carried out with the aim of
influencing the law-making and policy implementation processes of the EU institutions.
The establishment and operation of the EU Transparency Register is not part of EU legislation, but
they are the subject of internal decisions by the EP and the EC and the above-mentioned IIA, none of
which is legally binding or directly applicable to the EESC.
As far as the IIA in force is concerned, this clearly follows on from the provisions of Article 35
thereof, which states that:
"The European Council and the Council are invited to join the register. Other EU institutions, bodies
and agencies are encouraged to use the framework created by this agreement themselves as a
reference instrument for their own interaction with organisations and self-employed individuals
engaged in EU policy-making and policy implementation."
This is reiterated in Article 12(1) of the draft interinstitutional agreement on a mandatory
Transparency Register, to be signed by the EP, the Council and the Commission, based on the
Commission proposal of 28 September 2016. In addition, Article 12(2) and (3) of this draft provides
for a mechanism of notification by other EU entities to the Secretariat of the Register, on a voluntary
basis, of their wish to make certain interactions (i.e. with interest representatives) conditional upon
registration in the Transparency Register. And it would be only upon acceptance by the Management
Board of the Register and in return for a proportionate contribution to the functioning costs of the
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Secretariat and Register, that those EU entities could make those types of interaction conditional upon
registration. Finally Article 12(4) states that "the acceptance of the notification […] will not confer the
notifying EU […] bodies […] the status of a party to this interinstitutional agreement" and Article
14(1) further clarifies that "this interinstitutional agreement is of a binding nature for the signatory
Incidentally, and with regard to Article 12(2) and (3) of the draft IIA, their very meaning and added
value can legitimately be questioned insofar as, by the very nature of the Register, the information it
contains about registered interest groups is available not only to other EU institutions and bodies, but
also to the general public.
Why EESC members should not be bound by an obligation to register and make public
their meetings with interest representatives?
Given the EESC's nature and role in the EU institutional set-up, and its advisory function enshrined in
the Treaties, EESC members are themselves interest representatives acting in the Union's general
Article 300(2) TFEU states that "The Economic and Social Committee shall consist of representatives
of organisations of employers, of the employed, and of other parties representative of civil society,
notably in the socio-economic, civic, professional and cultural areas."
Article 300(4) TFEU further provides that "The members of the Economic and Social Committee […]
shall not be bound by any mandatory instructions. They shall be completely independent in the
performance of their duties, in the Union's general interest."
That said, it is obvious that, in fulfilling their mandate, EESC members are expected to express the
views, interests and concerns of the civil society organisations to which they belong. Therefore, they
themselves act as interest representatives in an advisory capacity, based on their experience and
Moreover, it is essential that, in the performance of their duties, EESC members interact with a variety
of stakeholders at both national and European level, and in particular those not represented in the
Committee, to seek their expertise in order to increase the representativeness and legitimacy of the
EESC's work, not least its opinions.
Furthermore, and as the institutional representative of organised civil society at EU level, the EESC
has a special responsibility for the development of participatory democracy and civil dialogue. It has
therefore put in place numerous initiatives to play a full part as a vector for the expectations and
aspirations of civil society organisations. Interacting with civil society organisations, and therefore
interest groups, is part and parcel of the EESC's mission.
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Lastly, it must be emphasised that, in the EU institutional set-up, the EESC is a consultative body
which, according to Article 13(4) TEU, acts "in an advisory capacity" to the EP, the Council and the
Commission. Therefore, the EESC has no legislative competence in the EU decision-making process.
In addition, the EESC's opinions are not mandatory, which implies that EU institutions are not bound
by them. The impact of the EESC on the legislative process is closely linked to its ability to take into
account, in its opinions in particular, as wide a range of views as possible from the relevant parties in
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