Rules, Ethics and Code: How is (or isn’t) Lobbying Regulated?

Open Panel

Despite its gradual recognition as a legitimate activity in a democratic system and the laws and regulations designed to regulate it, lobbying remains a suspicious activity. Recurrent scandals have fuelled this suspicion and have questioned the professional ethics of their protagonists. These episodes highlight the shortcomings of current supervisory systems, whether they are transparency registers, codes of ethics, or post-employment measures specifically targeting public office holders. More generally, they highlight forms of influence going through channels escaping regulations and other mechanisms in force: nepotism, revolving doors, natural proximity between economic and political circles and the presence of "elite circles", corruption. Thus, these monitoring mechanisms and the administrative rules related to the "management of ethics", particularly those promoted by international institutions, invite us to reflect both on their role in regulating political practices and on the ideal of good government that they are trying to promote.

The panel proposes to study lobbying by focusing not only on situations where it is seen as a legitimate activity but also on those where the practices associated with it are considered problematic at different ethical, pragmatic and democratic levels. Reflections on the framework of lobbying - and the ideal of transparency that underlies it - are also welcome, as are those on political practices that are particularly resistant to injunctions and standards of ethical conduct. More generally, the panel also proposes to reflect on the forms of influence that are emerging outside lobbying itself.