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Lobby register planned : Berlin wants to make public who can influence laws

The Berlin House of Representatives has prescribed a lobby register for itself and wants to bring more transparency to political decision-making and legislative processes in the future. The coalition factions of the SPD, the Left and the Greens have agreed on this. They submitted a joint application to parliament on Wednesday, which is exclusively available to the Tagesspiegel.

Specifically, the draft law provides for the participation of interest groups such as associations, clubs, companies or partnerships in legislative procedures to be made public in a lobby register set up on the House of Representatives' website.

The registration requirement includes, among other things, expert opinions and statements with which - vis-à-vis members of parliament, parliamentary groups, committees or the President of the House of Representatives and the Senate - influence on a legislative process is to be exercised.

The name, legal form and address of those involved, area of ​​interest and focus, the statement on the respective legislative proposal and a summary of it should be recorded. If law firms and management consultancies or other companies appear as participants, they must name their clients.

With the draft, Red-Red-Green redeems an agreement from the coalition agreement. The reason given in the law is that "Transparency and the public are central features and conditions of a functioning democracy".

The law is to come into force after the election

It is the task of Parliament to ensure that the drafting processes are more transparent, also in order to reduce the “risk of corruption”.

This is to be achieved through the mandatory publication of information on influencing legislative processes, the so-called “legislative footprint”. This includes laws that are drawn up and introduced by the Senate. The law is to come into force at the beginning of the next electoral term.

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The negotiators of the coalition groups expressly praised the result of their cooperation, which they described as smooth. According to the SPD MP Frank Zimmermann, the music on the subject of lobbying is "of course in the EU and above all in the federal government". “But we also want to make lobbying more transparent in Berlin,” said Zimmermann, justifying the application for the lobby register.

Michael Efler (left) said that Berlin would “create the most extensive lobby register of all federal states with the introduced law. Representation of interests is part of democracy, but it has to be transparent and comprehensible ”.

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Benedikt Lux, the negotiator responsible for the Green Group, commented on the draft with the words: "Citizens have a right to know who has contributed to a law with what content."

Because the legislation is dependent on experts and interest groups, it is correct to "now make fully transparent which contributions have been included in a law."

Problems with the transparency law

On the other hand, there is still a need for negotiation for another legislative proposal - also set out in the coalition agreement: the transparency law is still a long time coming. It was announced as a further development of the Freedom of Information Act, which had existed since 1999; most recently it called for a referendum initiative of the same name.

However, the Greens and the Left on the one hand and the SPD on the other do not agree. A draft law drawn up by the Senate and, among other things, sharply criticized by the Berlin Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, Maja Smoltczyk, is currently in the House of Representatives.

In the first reading, the Greens and the Left criticized the "area exceptions" provided for in the areas of education and research - areas exempted from the obligation to publish - and would prefer to "turn the law upside down".

However, the SPD wanted to adjust the draft as much as possible in details. It is currently unclear whether a solution that is acceptable for all parties - the transparency law passed in Hamburg in 2012 as a model - will be found. Michael Efler had announced in a panel discussion for the left-wing faction that he would waive the law if necessary. Robert Kiesel

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