Regulating lobbying: if not now, when?


The divide between citizens of Western countries and their elites can be reduced by ensuring greater transparency in the representation of interests and more participation in decision-making processes. This distrust between citizens and elites results in the need to regulate lobbying activities. The world’s two main economic areas, the United States and the European Union, have both implemented regulations for lobbying activities.


The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) brings together the world’s main developed and emerging economies.


In 2013, the OECD developed the 10 Principles for Transparency and Integrity in Lobbying, a set of guidelines that countries should follow in order to build a culture of transparency, free access to data, and loyalty in relations between stakeholders and public officials.


Here are their 10 principles:


  1. States should ensure that all parties concerned with a public decision have equal opportunity to access the development and execution of that provision.
  2. Lobbying rules and guidelines should address aspects of governance related to interest representation and adapt to the current socio-political context.
  3. Lobbying rules and guidelines should be consistent with the political framework in which they fit.
  4. When considering or developing rules and guidelines on interest representation, countries should clearly define the terms ‘lobbying’ and ‘lobbyist.’
  5. States should ensure an adequate level of transparency to ensure that officials, citizens, and businesses can obtain sufficient information on lobbying.
  6. Countries should allow every stakeholder (civil society organizations, businesses, media and citizens) to control lobbying.
  7. States should foster a culture of fairness within the institutions and decision-making procedures.
  8. Lobbyists should comply with high professional standards, as they are jointly responsible for promoting a culture of transparency and fairness.
  9. Countries should involve the main lobbying actors in developing a coherent framework of strategies and rules.
  10. States should periodically evaluate the effectiveness of their rules and guidelines on lobbying and make corrections if necessary.