Lobbying is a mode of action, often unobtrusive, as opposed to mass demonstrations that mobilize a large number of people. Lobbying refers to exercising legal pressure on politicians, public authorities and, more broadly, decision-makers. The lobbying activity involves patience, hard work, and even more expertise.
The lobbying activity requires a lot of work and professional integrity. It requires legal, political, sociological and communication knowledge. In supporting a public cause, a good lobbyist must be rigorous and creative at the same time. The Romanian Lobby Registry Association has adopted the following Code of Ethics for Lobbyists and Advocacy Practitioners to ensure basic guidelines and standards for their professional conduct.
The values that constitute this Code are integrity, transparency, accuracy, confidentiality, and professionalism. Romania is now in the category of responsible European countries, which have self-regulated their market in order to carry out fair and transparent activities in the interaction with decision-makers. Countries such as Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Estonia, Portugal, Slovakia, Sweden have no legislation, no code of conduct and no transparency records of interests.
What does lobbying have to do with ethics?
Since the ethical foundation of lobbying is the vigorous public debate necessary for informed decision making, ethical dilemmas related to lobbying tend to arise when various behaviors by lobbyists and lawmakers undermine the fairness and transparency of that process and do not contribute to the common good.
So what should lawmakers expect from ethical lobbyists?
Without exception, they should:
- Treat fellow lobbyists with courtesy: Lobbyists know they may be on opposite sides on one issue but allies on others.
- Respect the law: It is not enough to just act within the law. Ethical lobbyists embrace the rule of law and its underlying principles.
- Avoid conflicts of interest: If a potential conflict arises, ethical lobbyists disclose it immediately to both parties and recuse themselves until the matter is resolved.
- Strive for transparency: Good lobbyists don’t hide information—they share it.
- Maintain trust: Lobbyists build strong relationships, show mutual respect and honor commitments with legislators, staff and fellow lobbyists.
- Conduct business with integrity: Good lobbyists are proud of their profession and see themselves as problem solvers.
Code of Ethics of Lobby and Advocacy Practitioners
Those who practice lobby and advocacy must act ethically and morally in their relations with all parties involved and have a duty to contribute to the public understanding of this type of activity. The Code of Ethics of Lobby and Advocacy Practitioners provides basic guidelines and standards for the conduct of stakeholder representatives. They are strongly encouraged to respect the code and to always practice high ethical conduct in their efforts to influence public decisions.
The lobbying activity helps to maintain and improve the public trust, trust in the democratic institution and the representation process of public politics.
Lobbying and advocacy is an integral part of Romania’s democratic process and is a right guaranteed by the constitution.
In order to promote good practices in lobbying and advocacy activities and to help maintain and increase public confidence, confidence in democratic institutions and the process of public policy implementation, practitioners in lobbying and advocacy have taken important steps in self-regulation.