President signs new lobbyism bill into law

Handshake
Corbis / Scanpix

Politicians supporting the new law say that the current regulation does not work in practice, adding that the new legal act was important for Lithuania’s aspirations of joining the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Critics say this would not lead to major changes.

One of the key changes in the new law is a commitment to a lobbyist to declare the start of his operations within seven days. Lobbyists are currently required to submit annual declarations of lobbyism.

In the adoption process, heated discussions were triggered by the definition and exceptions of lobbyism, which suggests that protection of public interest will not be qualified as lobbyism, and non-governmental organizations will not be listed as lobbyists. Critics say this allows avoiding regulation.

After the discussions, parliamentarians decided not to require politicians to declare who had approached with with lobbyist proposals. Under the new language of the law, only physical entities can be listed as lobbyists.

Mindaugas Lingė, adviser to the president, said practice would highlight possible gaps of the law.

“A key motive is that adoption of the law is one of the pre-conditions for OECD membership. We saw at the Seimas how hard it was for the law to make way, two terms of the parliament were searching for consensus,” Lingė told BNS.

In Lithuania, the profession of lobbyist was legalized back in 2000, with merely 40 lobbyists officially registered to date.

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