The Government approves the bill to "combat" revolving doors and regulate 'lobbies'

It will prevent a senior official from carrying out activities in 'lobbies' related to their powers for up to two years after leaving the post.

The Government approves the bill to "combat" revolving doors and regulate 'lobbies'

It will prevent a senior official from carrying out activities in 'lobbies' related to their powers for up to two years after leaving the post

The Council of Ministers has approved on Tuesday the preliminary draft of the Law on Transparency and Integrity in the Activities of Interest Groups, which seeks to "combat" revolving doors and regulate those known as 'lobbies'.

The Minister of Finance and Public Function, María Jesús Montero, has broken down in the press conference after the meeting of the Council of Ministers this new draft, with which a senior official will be prevented from carrying out activities in 'lobbies' related to their powers up to two years after leaving the post.

"With this new regulation, Spain covers a lack that our legal system had when it came to making the legitimate activities of these interest groups transparent," defended the head of the Treasury.

THE 'LOBBIES' MUST REGISTER AND COMMUNICATE THEIR MEETINGS

As detailed by Montero, those known as 'lobbies' will be required to form part of an official registry that will be managed by the Office of Conflicts of Interest (OCI) and will be available on the Transparency Portal of the General State Administration and on the OCI website through identified and visible direct accesses.

In said register, relevant data on the groups must be included, such as the fiscal domicile, the headquarters or their areas of interest, and the meetings held with the public personnel of the General State Administration must be collected. "We are talking about senior officials or officials who participate in the process of drawing up a standard," the minister clarified.

Thus, the bill establishes that anyone who wants to hold meetings with those members of the State Administration contemplated in the bill must be registered to do so.

The only exception to being able to hold a meeting with those who participate in making regulatory decisions is the commitment to submit the registration request within three days of the appointment. It will also be an obligation of the high officials and workers immersed in the production of laws to verify that those with whom they meet are part of said registry.

In addition, all the activities of 'lobbies' that come to influence a regulatory project will be reflected in the impact analysis report of said law, a "trace" that will allow us to know who has participated in designing it, in what time and on what subject.

SANCTIONS FOR BREACHES

The "strict" norm, as defined by Montero, establishes that groups that are not registered in the Registry will not be able to contact public personnel to carry out these activities of influence, while those that do appear on that list must comply with a code of conduct that, for example, prohibits offering gifts or favors to public officials.

Thus, a sanctioning regime is incorporated for the 'lobbies' in case of infractions that may lead to the expulsion of interest groups from the registry for a period of up to three years and, therefore, the possibility of their concurring in the preparation of of norms or to be able to influence their development.

As an example, Montero has pointed out that it will be sanctioned if the "legislative footprint report" is not completed with the contributions of the interest groups, not holding a meeting with any public employee who was participating in the design of a regulation or doing a gift or "some kind of encouragement item directed to the defense of their own of their own interests".

PARTIES, EMPLOYERS AND UNIONS WILL NOT BE CONSIDERED 'LOBBIES'

They will not be considered 'lobbies' and, therefore, are excluded from the scope of this rule, for example, the public administrations themselves and their relationships with each other, public international organizations, political parties, business organizations, unions or associations. professionals.

Those that could have that qualification are the entities or foundations created or financed by these same organizations, since they are not protected by the constitutional powers of those who sponsor them.

Natural persons who act autonomously without being associated with others will not be considered 'lobbyists' either, provided that their objectives do not imply significant individual economic or social interests.

IT IS UP TO REPRESENTATIVES AND SENATORS TO ADOPT THE MODEL

The minister has specified that the rule that is promoted today and with which it is about combating the so-called "revolving doors" only affects senior officials and officials who participate in the design of the laws. He recalled, however, that other bodies such as the National Markets and Competition Commission (CNMC) have regulated this issue, while there are autonomous communities that also have it included in their regulations--Catalonia, Asturias, the Valencian Community or the Community of Madrid--.

But, as Montero has explained, in the parliamentary sphere, it is up to the initiative of the deputies and senators who could have scope for this rule within the scope of their activities after leaving office.

"We pave the way and then we hope that there are other sectors and other administrations that can join", emphasized the head of Finance and Public Administration.

A LAW COMMITTED TO EUROPE

According to the Treasury, the commitment to a regulation of this type will place Spain in terms of transparency and trust in public institutions at the level of countries such as Germany, the United Kingdom, France or Italy, which already have regulations for groups of interest.

This preliminary project, integrated into component 11 of the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan, is part of the commitments acquired by Spain for the regulation of the activity of 'lobbies' before the European Commission, which it placed in its State of Law Report to carry out this regulation.

It also serves to assume the requests of the Council of Europe, which through the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) requested more transparency in the relations of members of the Government with interest groups.

To this must be added the recommendations of the OECD Principles, which called for a regulatory framework that would guarantee the transparency and integrity of the activities of those who aspire to influence the AGE personnel who participate in decision-making or in the preparation of of laws and public policies.

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