The data displayed on LobbyFacts is based on published information extracted from two official sources. LobbyFacts replicates published data from these sources and we cannot be held responsible for inaccuracies in the original data. Anyone using LobbyFacts data should confirm it by checking the original sources. Our two sources are the EU Transparency Register and the European Commission’s data on its high-level lobby meetings.
EU Transparency Register
The EU Transparency Register is a joint initiative by the European Commission and European Parliament (the EU Council belatedly joined in 2021) which offers registrants the opportunity to publish data on their EU lobby activities. The Register is voluntary, although lobbyists are incentivised to join. As stated on its website, information on the official EU Register is provided by registrants themselves, making it the sole responsibility of those organisations. It is recognised that some entries in the official register are inaccurate, incomplete or otherwise misleading.
LobbyFacts presents some data differently from the original EU Register. Since September 2021, lobby consultancies are only required to declare their annual revenue from lobbying in ridiculously large bracketed thresholds, which includes the bracket 1 million euros+. In order to provide a more precise figure, LobbyFacts calculates a total for such registrants based on a tally of the individual sums declared per client per year. As these figures are provided in brackets ie. 100,000-199,999 we take the lower figure. This sum is then provided as the field 'Lobbying costs for closed financial year'. It is a more precise figure than the total on the EU Register. But as we use the lower of the bracketed figures, likely the LobbyFacts figure is a major under-estimate.
Furthermore since September 2021, non-commercial organisations now need to provide a total annual budget while other organisations have to provide an annual lobby spend. For non-commercial organisations, only their historical lobby spend will be available, and they will not appear in rankings according to lobby spend after September 2021.
Data taken from the official EU Register also include several hundred ‘duplications’, where organisations have joined the register and then re-registered under a different identification number. It is ongoing work in progress for LobbyFacts to link multiple entries from the same registrant together.
Campaigners consistently demand more resources for the secretariat of the EU Register to monitor entries and enforce the rules to boost the quality of the data.
Data on the official Register is in constant flux as new organisations join and registrants update their entries; the data on LobbyFacts reflect these changes. Our website is refreshed once a day, following publication of the official daily xml file update. This synchronisation process might explain any short-term differences between data on LobbyFacts and data on the official Register.
LobbyFacts has been collecting these daily xmls since February 2012. However, we are aware of some gaps in our data archive. Most importantly, between 20 September 2021 and 19 March 2022, all registrants were required to update their EU Register entries according to a new format. During this period, and in fact until 13 May 2022, the daily xmls did not include all financial data from all registrants. Until the Register secretariat remedies this and provides the missing data, LobbyFacts has decided to only show data until 19 September 2021, and then again from 13 May 2022 onwards. There are other, smaller gaps in our data collection, including from 2013.
European Commission data on meetings
The data on meetings held between high-level Commission staff and lobbyists on LobbyFacts is taken from the Commission's meetings dataset.
This data details the lobbyists met by Commissioners, their Cabinet members and Directors-General, when these meetings took place, and which issues were discussed. LobbyFacts consolidates this data with information from the official register to identify the lobby organisation met.
The Commission has published this information since 1 December 2014, and all high-level meetings are required to be posted online within two weeks, although this rule is not always followed.
In the view of LobbyFacts, this data is flawed. Investigations have shown that some lobby meetings take place and are not published; while some meetings are posted in duplicate, perhaps if both a Commissioner and Cabinet member attended. And of course, this data is only the 'tip of the iceberg' covering the lobby meetings held by only 400 or so officials, when the total staff of the Commission is thought to be 30,000 plus. The meetings data on LobbyFacts is refreshed once a week, and this might explain any short-term differences between data on LobbyFacts and data on the official webpages.
The LobbyFacts team is constantly looking to improve the smooth running of this platform. If you think you've found an inaccuracy, please report it via our contact form.