German industry lobbyists work directly in ministries

What was initiated with the best intentions turns out to be one of the worst conflicts of interest in recent German administration.

ARD MonitorARD MonitorARD MonitorA couple of years ago the red-green Schröder government was taking measures to increase the exchange between business and the national administration. A main part of the idea was to let industry pay for staff of national ministries. Now it turned out that the number of such detached “experts” within national ministries is running into the hundreds and there is no clarification for the extent to which they bend legislation, procurement or advice in the interest of their own companies (still paying them).

The ARD TV magazin MONITOR will bring a feature about it tomorrow evening (see programme in German).  In a press release Monitor brings first facts which are based on a (secret) special report of the German Court of Auditors (Bundesrechnungshof). Therein the Court claims that around 300 lobbyists have worked within national ministries between 2004 and 2006. 60% of them were representing the government at external events, more than half was drafting memos for superiors. Two of the “external staff” were heads of unit. But it gets even better: 25% of the lobbyists were involved in public procurement procedures; 20% were directly involved in the drafting of legislation and directives. Some even worked within units overseeing their own companies.

The court claims that there are no guidelines for the employment of the lobbyists and their employment is not limited.

Now my big question to you is, if we got some of these guys also as “national experts” within the EU institutions?!! And how has the well-intentioned idea been increased or decreased with the current government?

4 thoughts on “German industry lobbyists work directly in ministries

  1. Ralf Grahn

    Jan, this is a story of real interest to those who are interested in good governance.

    Good relations between (various levels of) government and business communities are important, but there is an obvious need to prevent conflicts of interest.

    On the face of it, a quick and decisive clean-up seems to be in order.

    But how on earth can the auditor’s report be secret?

  2. Jan Seifert

    Well, these reports can never be secret… otherwise we wouldnt know its content 😉

    But I think it is given to a Bundestag enquiry committee/budget committee and am sure it or parts of if will be released afterwards.

  3. Brusselsblogger

    Jan, this is an interestingt story.

    You describe the initiative as something that started with the best intentions. How has Schroeder justified that industry lobbyists work *inside* the ministries? I mean, good exchange of views, yes. But directly working inside government institutions?? hmmm.

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