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Reform of the lobbying industry should be at the top of the political agenda- Lynn Boylan MEP

24 November, 2014 - by Senator Lynn Boylan

Dublin Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan has welcomed the incoming changes regarding the public disclosure of payments made by pharmaceutical companies to doctors.

 Speaking today from Strasbourg, where the European Parliament is sitting this week, Lynn Boylan said:

 “I welcome any steps made by industry, towards demonstrating more transparency in financial dealings. The new initiative, which is European wide, will see drug companies disclose items such as donations, payments for attending medical conferences and for speaking on behalf of drug companies. The sticking point for me is that these new rules only apply to over the counter drugs, it should be an all-encompassing initiative”.

 At the heart of the lobbying debate is the conflict of interest issue.  I have asked the Commission to outline what measures are in place for the European Food Standards Agency (EFSA) to ensure that conflicts of interest are minimised. Additionally in a similar vein to the proposals contained the Transparency International report on lobbying in Ireland, on the introduction of two year “cooling off” period is recommended for former Ministers and special advisers, I asked the Commission if it believed that a required ‘cooling off’ period between working at EFSA and working for the industry is a good idea. The European Parliament itself has recommended a 2-year cooling off period.

 “Citizen confidence within the State and the EU institutions is at an all- time low with more needing to be done to enhance transparency. The government’s long awaited and watered down Registration of Lobbying Bill doesn't go anywhere near far enough in ensuring that the principle of transparency is central to all actions between government and private interest groups. Unfortunately the revolving door mentality is alive and well as was seen with the latest incoming and outgoing commissioners. The EU should get real on the impact this approach to governing has on public trust and the Irish Government should take on board the recommendations of the recent Transparency International report and lead by example."

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