Expert: Businesses lobby in Estonia more actively than non-profits

The state's public data shows that private companies in Estonia are more involved in lobbying than civil society organizations (CSO), Carina Paju, member of NGO Transparency International Estonia (Korruptsioonivaba Eesti), writes in daily Eesti Päevaleht.

Carina Paju, member of Transparency International Estonia (KVE), commented in daily Eesti Päevaleht (EPL) on Tuesday on data made public by a review of lobbying meetings held by top government officials in the previous year.

She said that "three out of every five meetings [with public officials in Estonia] are scheduled with companies or organizations representing their interests. Less than one out of every five meetings is scheduled with an NGO or umbrella organization, which is even lower than on the EU level.

"Whether this ratio is appropriate is a matter of opinion," the expert said, "but this data shows that private business is more involved in lobbying, has more resources to lobby and/or better access to decision-makers."

"Policymakers should consider additional steps to ensure a diversity of viewpoints and that their decisions are well-reasoned and balanced, because people with limited resources cannot keep up with larger corporations," said Paju, who is also the Open Government Partnership's Nordic and Baltic countries coordinator.

Paju also said that in 2019, Finland and Latvia began drafting their own lobbying legislation scheduled to step into effect in 2024.

Draft legislations have been written in both countries in collaboration with lobbyists and non-governmental organizations, and these efforts, albeit taking slightly different approaches, are leading to the implementation of a comprehensive lobbying regulation.

"Before the upcoming elections, Estonian political parties have an excellent opportunity to learn from the initiative of their neighbors and begin looking for timely solutions. We may be able to avoid unpleasant surprises this way, such as when parties achieve success through questionable means."

Read the article at ERR.