Czech Lobbying Act
Right before the general election, the Czech government approved a material proposal for the Lobbying Act. This piece of proposed legislation is supposed to shed light on otherwise “members only” process of legislation and government influencing.
Last fall, the Czech government anti-corruption committee (“corruption committee”) finally introduced its material proposal for the Lobbying Act. The proposal is a result of the long-term efforts of the previous government to oust undesired influence and corruption from the legislative process. The anti-corruption committee, created by the Czech government as its advisory body, has designed various ways (some more radical than others) to approach the issue that, if enacted, could change how lobbying is conducted in the Czech Republic.
The Lobbying Act defines lobbying as “(i) a communication made to influence legislative process and/or public decision-making, (ii) an activity, which is perpetual, organized and systematic, (iii) done for remuneration and that (iv) is done to represent interests of third parties.” The definition does not include MPs and other government officials. The regulation aims at lobbying of individuals listed in section 2 of Conflict of Interests Act (e.g., MPs, senators and other public servants).
The planned legislation includes proposals such as mandatory registration of professional lobbyists, maintenance of a public calendar designed to show who is meeting who at a given time, and amendments to Conflict of Interest Act, such as increased restrictions regarding gifts and requirements for income disclosure for government officials. The proposed act also plans to provide for incentives that should make registration more appealing, the main incentive of note being permission to access parliamentary premises. However, it is not clear yet whether registered lobbyists will have access to parliamentary cantine, which is famous for its guest-friendly prices.
Nevertheless, it is up to the new government to turn this proposed act into a functioning piece of legislation. We will closely watch the legislative process in the days to come.