The new lobby register at the federal level has been online since the beginning of the year. Anyone who contacts or wishes to contact members of the German parliament (Bundestag) or the German government in order to influence political processes must now register in accordance with the new Lobby Register Act (LobbyRG).
Trust in politics to be strengthened
The lobby register was introduced with the intention of strengthening public trust in politics and the legitimacy of the policy- and decision-making processes in parliament and government.
The creation of a registration obligation with the Lobby Register Act for all persons and organizations that establish or commission contact with members of the parliament or the federal government in order to influence political processes is intended to forge comprehensive and structural transparency of lobbying at the federal level in Germany.
Many institutions and private individuals required to register
The personal scope of application of the Lobby Register Act is very broad and obligates all natural or legal persons, partnerships or other organizations that carry out lobbying (the law speaks of “representation of interests”) themselves or commission others to do so.
Representation of interests within the meaning of the Act constitutes any contact for the purpose of directly or indirectly influencing the policy- or decision-making process of the bodies, members, parliamentary groups or groups of the German parliament or for the purpose of directly or indirectly influencing the policy-making or decision-making process of the federal government.
The act thus includes all individuals and institutions who contact the aforementioned groups in any manner in order to present their interests or influence the members of parliament in this respect.
Duration, intensity and regularity are crucial
The registration obligation has been in effect since January 1, 2022, provided that regular, business or intensive lobbying is carried out. In this regard, the law defines as follows:
- Regular lobbying: The individual or organization lobbies regularly. According to the legislator, this is already the case with three contacts.
- Long-term lobbying: Lobbying is designed to be long-term if the intention is to pursue the goals associated with the lobbying over an extended period of time.
- Business lobbying: Lobbying is conducted for business purposes for third parties. An intention to make a profit or a commercial activity are not required.
- Intensive lobbying: More than 50 different lobby contacts were made within the respective past three months. Contact can be made, for example, through a personal meeting, phone call, e-mail or letter.
Numerous details required
In the interest of transparency, the Lobby Register Act requires a wide range of information from individuals and organizations subject to registration.
- For example, the number of employees within the scope of lobbying must be stated and information on the identity of commissioning parties must be provided.
- Annual financial statements or statements of accounts must also be filed digitally in the register. Otherwise, there is a risk of finding oneself on a list in which institutions that have refused to provide information are recorded.
Once entered, the register entries can be viewed publicly at any time on the German parliament website.
Many individuals under obligation still not registered despite penalties
The legislator initially granted a transitional period of two months so that lobbyists who had already been required to register since January 1, 2022, still had the opportunity to register until February 28, 2022, without incurring the penalty of a fine.
Since March 1, 2022, institutions subject to registration must now fear penalties if, contrary to the regulation, they still fail to register with the lobby register.
Considering only 1,100 lobbyists had registered by the end of February, it can be assumed that the majority of organizations and individuals under obligation have not yet registered despite the threat of penalties.
Fines up to 50,000 euros
Anyone who has not yet registered, has not registered correctly or has not registered completely with the lobby register despite the registration obligation can be fined up to EUR 50,000. The fine may be imposed for each individual instance of lobbying. Even a few contact attempts with the relevant groups mentioned in the Lobby Register Act can have considerable financial consequences.
WINHELLER supports you in all lobby register issues
We will answer all your questions about the lobby register, check whether you or your organization are required to register, carry out the registration for you and continuously monitor your information in the lobby register for updates and compliance with the legal requirements.
We are pleased to offer you this service at a flat rate. Please contact us at any time for a binding offer. Our experts will gladly assist you with the lobby register! The easiest way to reach us is by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone (+49 69 76 75 77 80).