COMECE welcomes the new Transparency Register as a positive signal which deserves full support
Today, the European Parliament endorsed the setting-up of a common Commission/Parliament ‘Transparency Register’, creating the conditions for its official launch next June. This decision affects thousands of organisations which liaise with the EU Institutions. COMECE welcomes this common Register as an instrument that will make the legislative and policy-making process more transparent at the EU level.
Transparency is valued by the Catholic Church as an important element of a democratic society and it is essential that this aspect receives due consideration by the European Union’s institutions themselves.
The new Transparency Register features 6 sections: I-Professional consultancies/law firms, II-“In-house lobbyists” trade/professional associations, III-NGO’s, IV-Think-tanks, academic & research institutions, V-Organisations representing Churches and religious communities, VI-local, regional & municipal authorities, other public or mixed entities etc.
In this way, it creates a necessary separation and distinction between lobbyists and interest representatives, on the one hand, and entities that do not belong to that sector. Among the latter, Churches’ and religious communities’ representations are granted a specific Section (V) which recognises their identity, role and status. The clarification contained in the Register that Churches themselves are not concerned by the Register is crucial. The change of terminology from the one referring to lobbying/interest representation to the one of ‘transparency’ is also to be welcomed.
As the representation of the Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of the EU Member States vis-à-vis the European Institutions, the COMECE Secretariat would be in a position to join. Once the Register has been implemented in accordance with the present inter-institutional agreement, a decision to this effect will be taken following the internal procedures of COMECE.
COMECE sees its contribution as being that of an ethical and moral nature: its reflections and inputs to EU policy-making are inspired by the Gospel, and oriented towards the promotion of the dignity of every human being and the Common Good. COMECE advocates ethical values and does not operate in the name of ‘business’ or ‘private interests’ as lobbying and interest representations do, but is engaged in an “open, transparent and regular Dialogue” with the EU Institutions on the basis of Article 17 (3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU.