Government to Abolish Regulation on Lobbying – the Anti-corruption Institutions are About to Weaken

The draft Bill on Social Participation will repeal the now operative law on lobbying. This proposed measure would lead to an increase in oppurtunities for corruption by curtailing the transparency of public decision-making.

The current law on lobbying allows for the public to become aware of corporate attempts to influence public decision-making: it lets the people know which economic interest groups try to contact those who exercise power and why.

It is a painful fact – one not questioned by HCLU – that the current law has not achieved its expected outcome. The main problem is that public decision-makers do not observe the rules and regulations already applicable to them: for example they do not inform the public about illegal lobbying, which is their duty provided under the law. All decision-making organs must inform the Central Office of Justice about who lobbies for what. However, there is one ministry which has not published any information in the last three years. The reason is that in this case nothing forces the public decision-makers to obey the law. Although abolishing the above regulation would be a mistake on the part of the government, because there are no signs of plans of replacing that very important judiciary institution with an improved one. The HCLU thinks that the current regulation should be replaced by one which makes legal lobbying more beneficial than illegal activities.

The government’s draft would garantee by further legislation that the activity of the ministries will be transparent and the citizens will be able to express their opinion on legislation. That idea is simply simbolic, because the Hungarian law already demands transparent legislation and social participation in it. The government’s plans will not fix the shortcomings of the Bill on Freedom of Electronic Information came into force in 2005, which regulates the publicity of the legislation process: the objectives of that bill can not be reached because they can not be enforced, following them is only a voluntary matter, therefore the amount information on ministry homepages vary.

Share

Related articles

Landmark decision on freedom of information by the European Court of Human Rights

The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union won a freedom of information case against the Republic of Hungary. For the first time, the right to access to state-held information as part of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights has been formally recognized, as reflected in today’s ruling by the European Court of Human Rights. The Strasbourg based Court declared that withholding information needed to participate in public debate on matters of public importance may violate the freedom of expression.

HCLU wins case against the Ministry of Finance

The case was started against the Ministry of Finance after it denied access to data on public spending deficit of a hundred billion HUF.

HCLU Wins Landmark Freedom of Information Case

The Hungarian Ministry of Development and Economics is ordered to disclose data, which reveal what investments worth 200 billion Hungarian forints – nearly 800 million euros - were carried out by Swedish companies in exchange for the purchase of Gripen fighter-jets by the Hungarian Air Force. The journalist of on-line newspaper, origo.hu – with legal representation provided by the HCLU - has initiated a Freedom of Information lawsuit in December, 2007, because the Ministry has previously rejected to provide information to the journalist’s FOI request. According to the September 8th ruling of the Regional Court of Appeals, the defendant Ministry acted unlawfully.