“Regulation is needed to restore the balance of public debate and put the general interest first”

Lhe recent revelations by journalists from the "Uber Files", succeeding the "McKinsey affair", have highlighted the reality and the extent of the lobbying that guides the development of laws and regulations every day, from ministerial cabinets to the benches of the Assembly and the Senate. No conspiracy is at work here, but more banal political arbitration giving priority to the apparent short-term gain over the general interest.

For the promise of a few hundred precarious jobs, governments are ready to comply with the demands of multinationals, to make the labor code more flexible and to reduce the social protection of workers, while turning a blind eye to the tax evasion of these companies, Uber, Amazon, Gafam, and many others.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers "Uber Files": in the face of lobbying, insufficient safeguards in France

Faced with the weight of these private sector lobbies, many civil society organizations are also seeking to influence the drafting of the law through advocacy and mobilization campaigns for better protection of human rights, the environment and of the climate.

An obligation of controls and dissuasive sanctions

Unlike companies, this is done without profit motive, without dissimulation, as well as with infinitely more modest financial and human resources. Very few associations can claim to call a president or a minister to act in favor of their proposals.

Allowing economic and non-economic interests to clash without any form of regulation, with political power as the sole arbiter, is therefore highly inequitable. Regulation is necessary to restore the balance of public debate and to make the general interest take precedence over economic interests.

Read our survey: Article reserved for our subscribers 'Uber Files': A worldwide chronicle of an extraordinary lobbying firm

For direct lobbying – influencing decision makers – a trend has already begun in OECD countries with the gradual establishment of strict obligations to declare lobbying activities, both for those who practice it and for the political and administrative staff who are the targets. However, to be effective, these obligations must be accompanied by serious controls and dissuasive sanctions.

Transparency allows traceability

In France, the adoption of the Sapin 2 law in 2016 allowed timid progress in terms of transparency, but its shortcomings are proven and are the subject of constant sharing, even on the benches of the Assembly. However, the executive has still not deigned to put the reform of this law on the agenda, running counter to the national and European consensus.

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