Transparency register for lobbying is needed – FFI already reports its contacts

Graphics: Olga Komulainen
  • Finance Finland (FFI) is committed to transparency in its lobbying work.
  • FFI publishes an annual report of its lobbying activities, listing all the decision-makers that FFI has met in the context of its key priorities over the past year. These decision-makers include, for example, members of the Finnish Parliament, ministers and state secretaries, Members of the European Parliament and officials of the European Commission.

A parliamentary steering group and working group are currently working to draw up a proposal for an act on a transparency register to be established in Finland. The purpose of the act is to improve the transparency of decision-making and, by doing this, to prevent undue influence and reinforce public confidence.

FFI is strongly in favour of regulation that obligates lobbying organisations and companies to be transparent about their lobbying work. A steering group report on lobbying regulation, submitted to Minister of Justice Anna-Maja Henriksson on 2 December, sets a good foundation for finalising the transparency register. The goal is to have it in operation in 2023.

Three options for the register’s scope have been proposed. In FFI’s view, the first phase of the register should include the Parliament and ministries. According to a recent study on the current state of lobbying in Finland, lobbying is primarily targeted at government ministers and key officials at ministries.

The proposal on the register needs to be further defined so that it will shed more light on how laws and budgets are prepared without extending regulation to all possible dialogue between decision-makers and stakeholders.

“A wise decision-maker is one who is regularly engaged in dialogue with many different groups of experts, researchers and stakeholders. Decision-makers require information and different perspectives on the impact of the decisions that are being prepared. For example, lobbyists pass on information and expertise in their field to decision-makers, whose decisions then affect the lives of citizens and the operations of companies”, says Tuomo Yli-Huttula, director of communications and public relations at FFI.

“The preparation of the act on a transparency register has been exemplary in its own transparency, for which the Ministry of Justice deserves praise. Anyone can view the meeting notes and other materials on the Ministry’s website. Hopefully legislative work will continue to be this open and interactive also in the future”, Yli-Huttula comments. He was involved in the Ministry’s working group in preparing the bill as a representative of Edunvalvontafoorumi, a network of lobbyists.

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