‘No regulation can stop abuses on its own. Even where laws are well designed and sufficient resources are available to enforce them, laws will be bent or broken. It follows therefore, that lobbying regulation must always be complemented by voluntary efforts to promote responsible lobbying’.
The Responsible Lobbying Guide and Responsible Lobbying in Europe report have been produced by TI Ireland to promote better compliance with regulations and ethical principles by lobbyists in the private and non-profit sectors.
These resources can be used by lobbyists, companies and NGOs as a reference for developing their own codes, policies or in-house training.
Responsible Lobbying Guide
The purpose of the Responsible Lobbying Guide is to help lobbyists, executives and activists from the private and non-profit sectors understand:
- What is meant by ‘responsible lobbying’,
- The principles that underpin responsible lobbying and political engagement, and
- How those principles should be applied in practice.
The guide is divided into four sections. The first section provides an overview of common lobbying techniques, describes how lobbying can be abused, and then explains what we mean by responsible lobbying.
The following section provides an explanation of the five principles for responsible lobbying, how they might be implemented, together with examples of how companies, professional bodies and non-profit groups have applied these principles in practice.
The third section contains ten hypothetical scenarios that should help the practitioner reflect on some of the ethical dilemmas faced by lobbyists, executives and activists; the possible approaches they might take in facing those dilemmas; and some of the principles at stake in each scenario. Finally, we provide a summary of existing resources and helpful guides to lobbying published over the past ten years.
Responsible Lobbying In Europe Report
The Responsible Lobbying in Europe report identifies and analyses initiatives used by professional lobbyists to build trust among their stakeholders, to prevent abuse when engaging with policy makers and to promote responsible lobbying. These measures include:
- Professional codes of conduct and training facilitated by Public Relations and lobbying associations
- Standard setting initiatives led by organisations such as the UN Global Compact and the International Corporate Governance Network
- Reporting standards produced by the Global Reporting Initiative and others
- The study also reviews available data and analysis on the implementation of these and other global initiatives to promote responsible lobbying. It does not evaluate the performance of individual programmes or the implementation of those programmes by individual firms.
- Civil society professionals and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) practitioners who are interested in learning about initiatives aimed at promoting responsible lobbying standards within the private sector. The research should also help promote responsible lobbying standards within the non-profit sector.
Influence and Integrity
The Responsible Lobbying Guide and Report were produced as part of the Lifting the Lid on Lobbying project which also included our report Influence and Integrity, Lobbying and its Regulation in Ireland which was published in 2014.
The report found that a vibrant range of groups and individuals are engaged in lobbying in Ireland, offering valuable insights, expertise and feedback that inform and enrich public decision-making processes. However, significant lobbying efforts are hidden from public scrutiny and include ‘political insiders’ using their connections to access and seek to influence decision-makers.
TI Ireland found that efforts to safeguard the public interest in decision-making were piecemeal and ineffective. Laws and guidelines which set ethical behavioural standards for public officials are unduly complex and inadequate, and sanctions for breaches of these rules did not act as a sufficient deterrent, while oversight structures were also weak. In addition, TI found that there was not enough emphasis on ethics training for public officials and elected representatives.