The Sapin 2 draft law, examined by the Committee of Law of National Assembly on Tuesday May 25th, wants to reform the practice of interest representation, more commonly called lobbying, to make it more transparent. But not only. This is all the paradox of this « mega-law ». Dealing with many topics in a single text contributes to promote an opaque lobbying, at least during the time of its consideration and adoption.
No fewer than four Ministers are mobilized for these debates – the Minister of Justice for the penal provisions, the Minister of Economy for what remains of his former project NOE, the Minister of Agriculture since the draft law also affects agriculture, and of course the Minister of Finance, in order to “oversee” everything, to use the wording of Michel Sapin, heard by the Committees of Law, Finance and Economic Affairs.
The Committee of Law, responsible, had to delegate part of the examination to the Committees of Finance and Economic Affairs, as is usual for this type of omnibus bill. Indeed, it is impossible to identify a rapporteur specialist of both political life and tax/economic provisions on a wide variety of subjects. This system of delegation to other committees is the best parliamentary answer to such a situation but is clearly not optimal for a deep examination of the articles or the draft amendments proposed to parliamentarians by lobbyists.
Moreover, the Government imposes a rushing tempo in order to keep pace with the parliamentary agenda and the examination of new draft laws. Consequence? An increased examination rate of the draft laws, yet more and more complex, that makes even more complicated and opaque their examinations and, moreover those of multiple amendments tabled on the initiative of various interest groups.
At this very moment when we are debating the question of transparency and lobbying, at CLAI, we believe the first necessary measure for more transparency in the profession, should actually not be to impose constraints to lobbyists – even though they are obviously necessary – but rather to enable parliamentarians to work in an optimal working environment, having the time to study proposals from civil society in order to take, in the end, the most informed decision possible.
The draft law « transparency, anti-corruption, modernization of the economy » is paradoxically a perfect example of what not to do to reduce political life opacity : too many different subjects, an agenda that does not allow parliamentarians to carefully examine the text, and finally, study and debate conditions that interrogate their capacity to conduct the analytical work that people ask for, in order to better reject or, on the contrary, support the claims from different interest groups.