Focus: Lobbying

True democracy cannot be for sale, and it should not be controlled by powerful business interests. Politics for all: this is why I fight against the power of big business and lobbying in the EU.

I am a member of a cross-party group of MPs who stand for integrity, transparency and the fight against corruption. I work to achieve greater transparency and to ban companies from making donations to political parties.

Brussels is second only to Washington D.C when it comes to numbers of lobbyists. No-one can be elected US President without receiving donations from Wall Street, and the EU is not so different. The fact that there is no real European public means that lobbyists in Brussels and Strasbourg are given free rein. "The Brussels Business", a documentary broadcast by arte, shows very clearly how lobbying works. Here you find a illustration about the lobbying activities in Brussels and the diverse links of the European Commission by Transparency International.

Of course trade unions and environmentalists are lobbyists too in the strictest sense of the word. But they have much less money and power at their disposal, whereas business lobbyists have a system. When governments and parliaments change the rules of the game to make the financial markets bigger, more powerful and more complex, they find they lack the necessary expertise to draft good laws. This means that investment bankers are involved in drafting laws for the investment sector.

This is why I am fighting for greater transparency, a ban on corporate donations to political parties and for an upper limit to private donations. It is also important to provide legal protection for whistleblowers who expose wrongdoing.

In the fight against lobbying I as an MP and my team are like David facing Goliath. Some MPs in large parties recruit their staff straight from industry, and some of them are even paid by companies. This is why I work with organisations who are critical of lobbying, such as the Corporate Europe Observatory and Finance Watch. Whenever I meet with business lobbyists, for example to find out more about their opinions and strategies, I make this public on Facebook or elsewhere and give the details of our discussions. I do not receive any additional income from the private sector.