Business lobbyists are helping government ministries to draw up the legislation that is actually supposed to govern their companies’ activities. They have privileged access to the legislative process and can use internal information circulating within government departments directly for their companies’ benefit. That’s asking for trouble.
An employee of Fraport, the operator of Frankfurt airport, works at the Ministry of Transport, has a hand in writing the noise prevention regulations for airports and is blocking a countrywide ban on night flights. A lobbyist from Deutsche Börse AG at the Ministry of Finance has spent more than three years helping to draw up the draft investment modernization act, and is involved in the scrapping of interim taxation on investment funds. The health insurance fund DAK is financing an employee who is working at the Ministry of Health, where he copies confidential healthcare reform documents and passes them on to his employer.
Those are just a few examples which demonstrate how lobbyists are profiting from having a desk in a government ministry. Over the summer, LobbyControl examined over 100 cases of this kind and published details on the Internet. At the start of the parliamentary recess, the organization held a campaign in Berlin calling for lobbyists to »head off on their summer break and then head home«.
There has been considerable press coverage of this, which has sparked a growing public debate about this form of direct interference, of which the public has been largely unaware until now. LobbyControl is clear in what it is demanding: these »borrowed officials« must get out of the ministries. And when MPs and ministers really need to call on external expertise, this must be clearly and transparently regulated.
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