Law of 2022 No. 20(I)/2022 “On Transparency of Public Decision-Making and Relevant Procedures” (Ο περί της Διαφάνειας στις Διαδικασίες Λήψης Δημόσιων Αποφάσεων και Συναφών Θεμάτων Νόμος του 2022 (20(I)/2022)) is designed to ensure transparency of the participation of lobbyists in public decision-making concerning:
- definition of the areas of public policy, development of relevant policy and its amendment;
- drafting and adoption of legal acts;
- provision of public grants, state guarantees, subsidies and state financial support in other forms.
The Law covers:
- natural and legal persons of private law, who intend to participate in public decision-making on behalf of the persons whose interests they represent, in particular, managers and employees, elected or empowered to represent interests (hereinafter, lobbyists, representatives of interests);
- persons holding public positions, assistants of these persons, public and municipal servants and employees of the public sector, who can initiate the discussion of a public decision, participate in formulating or adopting its content due to their position (hereinafter, officials).
Under the Law, the representatives of interests are obliged to be registered in а Register of Lobbyists (Μητρώο Εγγραφής), which is being established, to participate in public decision-making. To this end, they must submit an application containing their identification data and information about the interest they will represent to the Independent Authority against Corruption (Ανεξάρτητης Αρχής κατά της Διαφθοράς Νόμος, hereinafter referred to as the Authority)*.
Additionally, the lobbyists will now have to submit reports on their participation in public decision-making to the Authority within the first two weeks of March and September. These should include:
- identification data;
- information about the interest they represent;
- information about the officials participating in decision-making together with the representative of interests;
- information about the time and venue of all meetings (contacts) with the aforementioned officials;
- objective of participation of the representatives of interests in public decision-making and the outcome of the discussions.
The relevant information is uploaded to the Register and published on the website of the Authority.
The rights of the representatives of interests are also enshrined in the Law. The lobbyists are entitled to:
- receive information about public decision-making processes in the areas indicated above;
- participate in public decision-making and public debates aimed at gathering opinions and suggestions concerning the issues of mutual interest;
- ask permission to meet officials, provided that 1) the representative of interests is registered in the Register, 2) the subject of the meeting was communicated in advance to the Authority, and 3) the official has the necessary powers.
2. Activities of officials
The Law stipulates that officials must:
- report any meetings (contacts) with representatives of interests to the Authority within two months;
- inform the Authority, the representative of the employee and officials of other interested public (municipal) bodies about a conflict of interest arising out of the participation in decision-making; these should take measures to manage the conflict by suspending the official from the respective discussion. The information about such individuals can be published by the Authority on its official website.
The Law also entitles officials to represent interests if they are registered in the Register and have obtained the clearance from the representative of the employee.
3. Liability measures
The Law contains provisions regulating liability for the failure to comply with the established requirements:
- a representative of interests who participates in decision-making without being registered in the Register is punished by imprisonment of up to a year and/or a fine of up to €10,000;
- failure to submit the report on the participation in public decision-making to the Authority is punishable by imprisonment of up to six months and/or a fine of up to €5,000;
- submission of false information in a report, an incomplete or knowingly misleading report is punishable by imprisonment of up to two years and/or a fine of up to €20,000;
- registration of a representative of interests by an official in the Register based on false information is punishable by imprisonment of up to three years and/or a fine of €30,000;
- failure of an official to submit a report on a meeting (contact) with a representative of interests is punishable by imprisonment of up to six months and/or a fine of up to €5,000;
- other violations of the Law are punishable by a fine of up to €100,000 and/or revocation of the registration in the Register.
The powers to supervise the enforcement of the Law are conferred to the Authority.
*The establishment of the Independent Authority against Corruption, as noted, is provided for by Law of 4 March 2022 No. 19(I)/2022 “On the Establishment and Operation of the Independent Authority against Corruption” (O περί της Σύστασης και Λειτουργίας της Ανεξάρτητης Αρχής κατά της Διαφθοράς Νόμος).