Covert lobbying, which is very common in Latvia, has caused great harm to the state. It is one of the elements that creates distrust to the state power - stated Veronika Krumina, Chair of the Department of Administrative Cases of the Supreme Court.

On 9 June, by participating in the seminar “Lobbying regulation in Latvia” hosted by the Commission for Legal Environment created by the President of Latvia, Veronika Krumina noted that widespread public opinion that laws usually are adopted taking into account interests of narrow group has given an impression that the decision-makers – the Saeima and the Cabinet of Ministers – do not act in the public interest. Chair of the Department stated that courts as law enforcing authorities task of which is to ascertain the legislature's intention, often impinge on the vacuum of information and discussions and are unable to find out what interests are behind the development and adoption of certain legal provisions.

Although legal lobbying contributes to better decision-making and has to be encouraged, for the Latvian community, when facing well-hidden lobbying, words ‘lobbying’ and ‘lobbyist’ have acquired a negative connotation. The existing regulatory framework marks the dividing line between lobbying and unlawful coercion of public officials, as well as foresees the requirement to provide certain information, such as to indicate in the annotation of the laws and regulations persons who were consulted. However, it does not give confidence that lobbying should depend solely on decency.

Hoping that a new, more extensive lobbying regulation will once remove suspicion shadow created by the covert lobbying, the court still considers that Latvia has to invest in resources in order to convince the society that lobbying is one of the high-quality decision-making elements.

"If our education system does not teach young people that we all are the ones who rule the country, and members of parliament to whom we give the decision-making mandate is creation of our own hands and mind; if there is no awareness that paying taxes is everyone’s obligation, then how do we create this new lobbying system, in which there will operate another lobby – new one – which is free from vices of covert lobbying," Veronika Krumina concluded her speech.

The participants searched for answers to the questions – what are the issues related to the influence of lobbyists and what goals could be achieved through lobbying framework. The event was opened by the State President Raimonds Vejonis. Chair of the Commission for Legal Environment, Aivars Endzins looked at the opinions on necessity of lobbying regulations in Latvia. Gianluca Sgueo, Policy Analyst at the Parliamentary Research of the European Parliament,talked about developments and future challenges of lobbying regulation in the European Union. Professor Alberto Bitonti looked at experience of other European countries regarding the regulation of lobbying. Along with Veronika Krumina, also the "Providus" researcher Iveta Kazoka, Deputy Secretary at Saeima Gunars Kutris and co-owner of public relations agency "Mediju tilts" Filips Rajevskis participated in the discussion.

 

Information prepared by

Rasma Zvejniece, the Head of the Division of Communication of the Supreme Court

E-mail: rasma.zvejniece@at.gov.lv, telephone: +371 67020396, +371 28652211