6.11. Lobbying Policy

 

The concept of lobbying in Lithuania is a controversial and ambiguous concept. Some persons consider it to be a synonym of certain secret agreements, others — a way of participating in the state governance. Unfortunately, the negative attitude towards lobbying and lobbyists formed in the Soviet era still remains vital in the modern Lithuanian society eras well.

The most general definition for lobbying is contacts with the persons involved in lawmaking in order to influence the process of lawmaking. Whom the  lobbyists "contact" with and what type of contacts are considered as lobbying is defined in  national law, but it should be noted that here we talk only about legal and allowable influence on persons involved in lawmaking.

Legal lobbyists and their legal activities is an element of a democratic society. It is not prohibited for civil servants and politicians to have contacts with lobbyists if it serves the right purpose and it is done properly. Lobbyists themselves should be bold in talking about their influence and contacts. The goal of all civil officials, servants and politicians must be to ensure that their activities and relationships with lobbyists are adequate, transparent and would not be misinterpreted.

Lobbying in Lithuania is regulated by the Law on Lobbying Activities, which came into force as of 1 January 2001[92], the control and supervision over the monitoring of the implementation of the provisions whereof  is assigned to the COEC. Lobbyists are also subject to and follow the provisions of the Code of Ethics for Lobbyists[93] approved by the Resolution of the COEC on 31 March 2005.

 

In accordance with the Republic of Lithuania Law on Lobbying Activities:

Lobbying activities means actions taken by a natural or legal person for or without compensation in an attempt to exert influence to have legal acts amended, supplemented or repelled or new legal acts adopted or rejected, in the interests of the client of lobbying activities.

A lobbyist means a natural or legal person recorded in the Register of Lobbyists in the manner prescribed by the Law on Lobbying Activities.

 

Thus, the concept of lobbying activities essentially means any actions of the person (except for the exceptions specified in the Law on Lobbying Activities) used to influence the legislative process.

In Lithuania lobbyists may be both natural and legal persons (companies) and their number is unlimited. For someone to engage in lobbying activities, he or she must be included into the list of lobbyists. In 2016 this list enrolled 36 lobbyists. The decision on including a person into the list (or removal from it) is made by the COEC, after examination of an application and completed standard-form questionnaire. These documents are available on the COEC website: www.vtek.lt

Should the person take actions in order to influence the legislative process in the name of a non-existent lobbying client or being unregistered under the procedure laid down in the Law on Lobbying Activities, such activities shall be deemed as illegal lobbying activities, which incur administrative liability in accordance with Article 17225 of the Code of Administrative Offences[94].

 

According to Article 7 of the Law on Lobbying Activities, the following activities shall not be considered lobbying:

  • activities of non-profit organisations (e.g. associations, public institutions) aimed at exerting influence on the lawmaking process in the common interests of their members;
  • activities of persons, when they participate, upon invitation of appropriate institutions, in the process of the preparation of the legal acts in the specialist capacity;
  • actions taken by state politicians, state officials or civil servants,  when such actions are carried out in accordance with their official powers;
  • activities of scientists (pedagogues);
  • opinions on legal acts expressed by a natural person;
  • activities or work of the mass media related to information on legal acts.

 

Information about lobbying is public. A lobbyist must provide the COEC with a report on the lobbying activities for the previous calendar year no later than by 15 February of the current year. The form of the report on lobbying activities shall be established by the COEC and it shall publish the reports[95] received on its website: www.vtek.lt. A report on lobbying activities must include: title of the legal act or the draft legal act regarding which the person acted as a lobbyist, the income and expenditure of lobbying.

 

Considering the above, for organisations, which influence or plan to influence legal regulation, it is advisable to prepare a policy for transparent lobbying, which would state the following:

  • the organisation shall influence legal regulation (i.e. implements lobbying) only through official lobbyists who are included into the list of lobbyists in accordance with the Law on Lobbying Activities;
  • each year the organisation shall publish the title of the legal acts or draft legal acts regarding  which the organisation had ordered lobbying and the name or title of the lobbyist who implemented lobbying activities.


[92] The Republic of Lithuania Law on Lobbying Activities  is available here: https://www.e-tar.lt/portal/lt/legalAct/TAR.7B9B89F840E2/TAIS_437586 
[93] www.vtek.lt/images/Lobistai/lobistu_etikos_kodeksas.doc 
[94] According to Article 17225 of the Code of Administrative Offences, lobbying activities carried out  in violation of the Republic of Lithuania Law on Lobbying Activities shall incur a fine from 144 to 289 euros. The same actions committed by a person who has already been convicted  for the violations  in the first part of this Article shall incur a fine from 289 to 579 euros.
[95] http://www.vtek.lt/#lobistams