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Latvia

Transparency in Lobbying (LV0042)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Latvia Action Plan 2019-2021

Action Plan Cycle: 2019

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: State and municipal institutions Saeima, VK, VAS, other interest representation /institutions competent for lobbying Representatives of the society Society for Transparency - Delna, Senior at LatviaCommunity Association, Kurzeme NGO Center, LatvianHaemophilia Society, Society “Latvian Civicalliance

Support Institution(s): NA

Policy Areas

Capacity Building, Legislation & Regulation, Legislative, Lobbying, Participation in Lawmaking, Sustainable Development Goals

IRM Review

IRM Report: Latvia Design Report 2019-2021

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion: Pending IRM Review

Description

What are the major national and societal challenges that this commitment will address?
The legal framework for openness in lobbying has been working in Latvia for about 10 years, but without significant practical results. So far, work has gone in two directions:
• incorporate lobbying regulations into a single law, or
• incorporate lobbying regulations into several pieces of legislation.
Concerning the first version of the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (hereinafter - KNAB) In 2007, a working group drafted the Bill on Transparency of Lobbying. However, 2014On February 17, the draft law was considered and rejected at the meeting of the Cabinet Committee, which was asked to draft itproposals for incorporating the lobbying framework into existing legislation.Work has begun to incorporate the regulation of lobbying into:
• Rules of Procedure for the Saeima (regulation of communications between the members of the Saeima and lobbyists)and third parties that influence the legislative process; to provide for liability of the Saeimathe Code of Conduct for Members),
• Public Administration Structure Law (include definition of lobbying),
• Law on Prevention of Conflict of Interest in Activities of Public Officials (lobbyingrestrictions),
• Cabinet of Ministers Instruction "Procedure for the Initial Impact Assessment of a Legislative Draft" (lobbyingindication of activities in the annotated act),
• Regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers “Procedures for Public Participation in the Development Planning Process” and “Procedures,where the authorities place information on the Internet "(registration of lobbyists andpublishing).However, at both the administrative and political levels, the understanding was not uniform and the amendments did not winsupport. Amendments to the Saeima Rules of Procedure are currently in progress.

June 9, 2017 - Improvement of the Legal Environment created by President Raimonds VējonisAt the commission conference "The need for lobbying regulation in Latvia" it was recognized that regulation isif necessary, lobbying must be open and it is important to facilitate the decision-making processtransparency. Various models of regulation, lobbyists' registers were discussed at the conferenceand the experience of other countries and international organizations.

There is a lot of bias in society today about lobbying. It is considered that decision-making- is not sufficiently transparent and that decisions are often made in the personal interest of one another; andnot justified or not in the public interest. However, the interests are legitimate and they must beunderstandable and open. It's important to take steps to make your interests clearer (member,owner, intermediary) person representing.In October 2019, the Saeima Defense, Internal Affairs and Anti-Corruption Commission established a working groupthe drafting of a Transparency Bill on Lobbying. Developed by the Saeima Analytical Service in 2019a study on lobbying. The Task Force started drafting a Transparency Bill in 2020.The Saeima working group intends to develop a comprehensive framework to promote interestsopenness of representation in various branches of state power.

What is the commitment?
The commitment is to promote openness of interests and lobbying in the following areas:
• Improvement of the regulation of interest representation (lobbying openness),
• information measures, including in the general public, to promote transparency of interests represented; andawareness of its benefits,
• Initiative to introduce greater openness regarding meetings of certain officials (opencalendars),
• Understanding the openness of lobbying within institutions (at the level of employees and managers).

How will the commitment help to address the issues identified?
The Law on Interest Representation (Lobbying Openness) would address the ongoing unified lobbying opennessthe lack of a legal framework. Openness about the interests that have been created will be promotedcertain decisions (the interests of which groups were heard). It would also improve the participatory process as it would bemore precise and systematic identification of not only participants / coordinators but also lobbyists, withwho have had meetings, how and what specific interests the person / organization has represented.

Why is this commitment consistent with OGP values?
The commitment shall comply with the following OGP values:
• openness through greater access to information and clarity about the interests represented;
• accountability by requiring the public to be informed of the interests affected by the decisions. Alsoindividuals and organizations will have to indicate what interests they represent;
• Participation by promoting equal access to the decision-making process.

Additional information
Available commitment ornecessary financing
The commitment will be implemented from the parties involvedavailable budgetary resources

Relationship with other documents
The commitment is in lineGovernmentsactionplanDeclarations on the Cabinet chaired by Arturs Krišjānis Kariņšfor the implementation of the activities planned for Task 183“Ensuring transparency of interest representation andtransparency of public sector information

"Compliance with UN sustainable developmentgoals
Complies with UN Sustainable Development 16.7. for the sub-objective -“Ensure a flexible, inclusive, inclusive andrepresentative decision-making at all levels "

IRM Midterm Status Summary

3. Transparency of interest representation and lobbying

Main Objective

The commitment constitutes the promotion of the transparency of represented interests and lobbying in the following directions:

  • improvement of the framework for interest representations (transparency of lobbying);
  • informative measures, including in public, to promote the transparency of the represented interests and raise awareness of its benefits;
  • initiatives for the introduction of greater transparency of the meetings of specific officials (open calendars);
  • raising awareness of the transparency of lobbying in institutions (at the level of employees and managers).

Milestones

The matter of lobbying transparency is included in one training provided by the Latvian School of Public Administration and one training provided within the Programme for the Development of Senior-Level Managers.

Editorial Note: For the complete text of this commitment, please see Latvia’s action plan at: https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Latvia_Action-Plan_2019-2021_EN.pdf

IRM Design Report Assessment

Verifiable:

Yes

Relevant:

Access to Information,

Potential impact:

Minor

Commitment Analysis

The commitment addresses one of the most challenging issues in the field of openness and corruption prevention in Latvia. The work on a legal framework for transparency of lobbying has been underway for more than a decade, but there is still no regulation of lobbying in Latvia. This topic has been part of the previous OGP action plans – the third action plan included a milestone to organise focus group discussion on lobbying, which KNAB implemented, However, this activity only marginally improved participation and did not lead to changes in lobbying transparency. [29]

Lobbying in Latvia is particularly evident in sectors subject to greater state regulation and in which there are greater public budget investments, including the pharmaceutical, construction, and information and communication technology industries. [30] Over half of Latvians (52.4%) consider the influence of lobbyists on decision-making to be corruption. [31] In 2012, the Latvian Lobbyists’ Association [32] developed a code of ethics to serve as a self-regulatory body, but it has not been active for several years. [33]

This commitment includes broadly formulated milestones without indicating specific expected results. It entails providing a training by the Latvian School of Public Administration and one training within the Programme for the Development of Senior-Level Managers. Currently the school does not offer such trainings. The commitment also entails publishing information on meetings held by public officials through setting up an open calendar. At the moment, this practice does not exist, but the commitment does not indicate which public officials will be subject to this and whether it will be a requirement or a recommendation. The commitment also foresees introducing informative events for stakeholders and the general public to increase understanding about the transparency of the lobbying process and potential benefits such transparency may bring. It was mentioned in the interview with a representative from public institutions [34] that a more specific plan regarding design and implementation of these steps is to be developed in the upcoming months.

Although the fulfilment of the included milestone could lead to positive changes as compared with the current practice, without passing a strong law that meets international standards on regulation of lobbying, this commitment would fall short of ensuring a meaningful lobbying transparency reform in Latvia. While setting up and implementing a functioning and effective lobbying framework could be transformational, the Parliament (Saeima) claimed that a commitment in the action plan introducing a new law would constitute overreach by the multistakeholder forum. To bypass this issue, the multistakeholder forum decided to remove Saeima-specific milestones on setting up the lobbying register and passing the new lobbying law. Although Saeima representatives commented that the executive branch cannot assign tasks to parliament, the action plan could contain legislative commitments if the Saeima were to propose such commitments. [35]

Against the backdrop of this, the multistakeholder forum working group was eager to include this commitment in the plan to serve as a form of support for the development of a lobbying framework. In the view of ministry representatives, [36] this is crucial, as it contributes to the overall culture of openness and transparency in Latvia even if action plan commitments directly introducing legislation were blocked by the Saeima at this time. The current commitment could still popularise the concept of transparent lobbying within institutions, provide information about calendar of meetings of public officials, and raise awareness. Although the aspirations for this commitment are much higher, the potential impact as it currently stands will be minor.

[30] Business associations such as Foreign Investors' Council in Latvia and  Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry as well as trade unions also play an important role in lobbying.
[31] SKDS (2008; 2014), Survey conducted for Democracy Audit 2015, Available at: https://www.szf.lu.lv/fileadmin/user_upload/szf_faili/Petnieciba/sppi/demokratija/ENG_Audit_of_Democracy_2015.pdf, Last accessed: 07/06/2020.
[32] Diena (2012) Latvian Lobbyists’ Association Established, Available at: https://www.diena.lv/raksts/latvija/zinas/nodibinata-lobetaju-asociacija-13941271, Last accessed: 07/06/2020.
[33] Kalnins, V., Valternbergs, V., Grumolte-Lehre, I. and Beizītere, I. (2019) The Normative Regulation and associated challenges in Latvia and Europe, Available (in Latvia) at: https://www.saeima.lv/petijumi/Lobesana_Latvija_un_Eiropa_2019.pdf, Last accessed: 07/06/2020.
[34] Interview with Inese Kušķe, SC, 6th of May, 2020.
[35] This was mentioned by several stakeholders in the interview process, May 2020.
[36] Interview with Inese Kušķe, SC, 6th of May, 2020.

Commitments

  1. Transparency in Public Procurement and Contracts

    LV0040, 2019, Access to Information

  2. Open Data

    LV0041, 2019, Access to Information

  3. Transparency in Lobbying

    LV0042, 2019, Capacity Building

  4. Open Municipal Government

    LV0043, 2019, E-Government

  5. Public Engagement in Policymaking

    LV0044, 2019, Capacity Building

  6. Anti-corruption Measures

    LV0045, 2019, Anti-Corruption

  7. Public Participation in Decision-Making

    LV0028, 2017, Access to Information

  8. e-Legal Services

    LV0029, 2017, Access to Information

  9. Open Data

    LV0030, 2017, Access to Information

  10. Lobbying Transparency

    LV0031, 2017, Capacity Building

  11. Budget Transparency

    LV0032, 2017, E-Government

  12. Whistleblower Protections

    LV0033, 2017, Anti-Corruption

  13. Ethics in Public Management

    LV0034, 2017, Capacity Building

  14. Zero Bureaucracy

    LV0035, 2017, Legislation & Regulation

  15. Open Public Procurement

    LV0036, 2017, Access to Information

  16. Transparency in State Management

    LV0037, 2017, Access to Information

  17. Beneficial Ownership

    LV0038, 2017, Anti-Corruption

  18. Evidence-Based Governance

    LV0039, 2017, Capacity Building

  19. Starred commitment Concept Note on Publishing Data

    LV0018, 2015, Access to Information

  20. Portal Drafting Legislature and Development of Planning Documents

    LV0019, 2015, E-Government

  21. Platform Unifying Gov. Webpages

    LV0020, 2015, E-Government

  22. Starred commitment Transparency of Selecting Candidates for the Boards and Councils of Public Entity Enterprises

    LV0021, 2015, Legislation & Regulation

  23. Supervising Officials Responsible of Public Resources

    LV0022, 2015, Anti-Corruption

  24. Sustainable Model of Financing NGOs

    LV0023, 2015, Civic Space

  25. Starred commitment Online Collection of Signatures on Referenda

    LV0024, 2015, E-Government

  26. Draft Law on Protecting Whistleblowers

    LV0025, 2015, Anti-Corruption

  27. Assessment of the System of the Financing Political Parties

    LV0026, 2015, Political Integrity

  28. Code of Ethics and a Public Administration Employee’S Handbook for Public Sector

    LV0027, 2015, Capacity Building

  29. NGO Fund

    LV0001, 2012, Capacity Building

  30. Strengthen Social Partners

    LV0002, 2012, Public Participation

  31. Trade Union Law

    LV0003, 2012, Civic Space

  32. NGO Co-Working

    LV0004, 2012, Civic Space

  33. Public Engagement Model

    LV0005, 2012, Open Regulations

  34. Internet Access Points

    LV0006, 2012, E-Government

  35. Public Service Assessment

    LV0007, 2012,

  36. Enhancing e-services

    LV0008, 2012, E-Government

  37. Transport e-services

    LV0009, 2012, E-Government

  38. Asset Disclosure

    LV0010, 2012, Anti-Corruption

  39. Lobbying Law

    LV0011, 2012, Legislation & Regulation

  40. Whistleblower Protection

    LV0012, 2012, Anti-Corruption

  41. Public Subsidy Control

    LV0013, 2012, Private Sector

  42. State Owned Enterprises Management

    LV0014, 2012, Private Sector

  43. Single Platform for Government Websites and Information

    LV0015, 2012, E-Government

  44. Online Broadcasting From the Cabinet and Parliament

    LV0016, 2012, E-Government

  45. Website For Public Participation

    LV0017, 2012, E-Government

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