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Liisa Pakosta wants to disclose MPs' meetings with lobbyists

Liisa Pakosta.
Liisa Pakosta. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

MP Liisa-Ly Pakosta (Eesti 200) has approached the board of the Riigikogu and the parliament's Anti-corruption Select Committee with an initiative to create a platform for the registration and disclosure of lobbying meetings of members of the Riigikogu.

Last October, Liisa-Ly Pakosta approached President of the Riigikogu Lauri Hussar and head of the Anti-Corruption Select Committee Mart Helme with a proposal to create a platform where meetings between members of the Riigikogu and lobbyists would be disclosed.

Pakosta was motivated to make this request by her own meetings with lobbyists from the tobacco industry and believes that, at a minimum, meetings with lobbyists from this sector should be public information, as the European Union requires disclosure of any interaction with the tobacco industry's lobbying efforts.

"In Estonia, there is no established good practice for interactions between the Riigikogu and lobbyists, and what's worse, we also lack a lawful means to disclose meetings with representatives of the tobacco industry on the Riigikogu's website and to give an overview of the meeting's content. I consider the creation of such an opportunity to be essential, as it stems from the need for transparent legislation that prioritizes the health interests of Estonian residents," wrote Pakosta.

Pakosta cited an example where she met with the external affairs manager of Philip Morris and a representative of Powerhouse shortly before submitting her request, expressing her desire to make this meeting public.

"I request that this information be made public on the Riigikogu's website in a way that makes it easy for visitors to find meetings between members and officials of the Riigikogu with lobbyists from one place," noted Pakosta.

Anti-Corruption Select Committee to consult other parliamentary committees

Mart Helme noted in a letter to other Riigikogu committees that, at the end of the spring session in 2022, the select committee proposed to the Riigikogu board to start disclosing the lobbying meetings of committees and factions on a quarterly basis and to train the staff of committees and factions for this purpose with the help of the Ministry of Justice.

In September 2022, the committee confirmed its readiness to meet with the Riigikogu board to organize the quarterly disclosure of lobbying meetings of committees and factions. "Since the registration and disclosure of lobbying meetings did not commence during the XIV composition of the Riigikogu, it is appropriate to make these decisions now," Helme found.

The Riigikogu board discussed Pakosta's request at its meeting on January 16. Riigikogu President Lauri Hussar noted that the board believes regulating lobbying activities is an important issue that supports the openness and transparency of the Riigikogu's work; at the same time, the board agrees with the call not to create unnecessary bureaucracy.

According to Hussar, consensus among all parliamentary factions is needed to decide on the registration and publication of lobbying meetings.

The Riigikogu board asked the select committee to continue working on the issue. Additionally, the board proposed consulting the Riigikogu's Constitutional Committee to analyze whether the disclosure of lobbying meetings is consistent with the principle of the free mandate of members of the Riigikogu.

The anti-corruption committee is awaiting opinions from other Riigikogu committees by March 1. This week, the Environmental Committee announced that they support the creation of such a public platform.

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Editor: Marko Tooming, Marcus Turovski

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