At the end of 2015 the European Commission has embarked on a path to modernise Europe’s copyright rules. This is likely going to be a long process that will lead to intensive efforts by lobbyists from all sides to influence the outcome of the legislative process. To get a better understanding of who is trying to influence this process and how much access to policy makers the different sides A method for keeping track of meetings about copyright policy between lobbyists and EU commission officials.of the debate have, we have started to collect information about meetings between lobbyists and high-ranking commission officials. The information we publish is based on information published by the European Commission and has been been assembled according to the following methodology.
Since the first of December 2014 the European Commission publishes all meetings that Commissioners and their cabinet members have with organisations or self-employed individuals. This effort is part of the Commission’s commitment to improve transparency in policy-making. The lists with meetings allows anyone to see who is meeting with ++At the moment this only includes the Commissioners and their cabinet members. as well as the topics that are discussed during these meetings. ++ExceptionsThe commission will not publish meetings with representatives of other EU bodies, the member states, foreign governments, churches, and political parties, as well as information about meetings that “may undermine the protection of the life, the integrity or privacy of an individual, the financial, monetary or economic policy of the Union, the market stability or sensitive commercial information, the proper conduct of court proceedings or inspections, investigations, audits or other administrative procedures; or the protection of any other important public interest recognised at Union level”. by the European Commission provides that starting point for our analysis.
With regards to copyright policy there are three Commissioners who are directly responsible for the topic: President Juncker, Vice President Ansip and Commissioner Oettinger. Each commissioner publishes a webpage with his own meetings and a page with the meetings of his cabinet members:
- President Juncker (meetings, meetings of cabinet members)
- Vice president Ansip (meetings, meetings of cabinet members)
- Commissioner Oettinger (meetings, meetings of cabinet members)
From these pages we can extract meetings that deal with copyright and/or involve stakeholders that have an active interest in the field of copyright policy.
In order to define which stakeholders have an active interest in the field of copyright policy we can refer to the topics of the meetings as well as to the responses to the public consultation on the review of the EU copyright rules. This consultation gathered more than 11 thousand replies and we assume that organisations or individuals who have replied to the consultation have an active interest in the field of copyright policy.
In addition, the information obtained via the consultation also allows us to determine which interests are represented by a particular organisation or individual. As part of the public consultation the Commission asked all respondents to identify which interests they represented (the options were End User/Consumer, Institutional User, Author/Performer, Publisher/Producer/Broadcaster, Intermediary/Distributor/Other Service Provider, Collective Management Organisation, Public Authority, Member State and Other). We use these self-identifications as the basis for assigning meetings to a particular stakeholder category. Where a meeting is obviously related to copyright policy but the organisation or individual involved has not responded to the consultation, we attempt to classify it based on other publicly available sources of information such as the EU transparency register. If this fails we assign the meeting to the Other category.
Combining these two sets of information allows us to count the meetings between commission officials and representatives of the different stakeholder categories in the copyright policy debate. Comparing the amount of meetings of the different stakeholder categories allows us to get an indication of the level of access that different stakeholders have to key policy makers.
Details about meetings related to copyright policy are then collected in this spreadsheet and each meeting is assigned to ++Given that there were few responses from public authorities and member states, and that meetings with member states representatives will not be published by the commission, we have folded these two into the category other. established by the public consultation. Each meeting counts as one point. If an organisation or individual has been identified as representing the interests of multiple groups of stakeholders, then the point is divided between these categories. If a meeting is attended by more than one organisation, we assign a point for each organisation.
There are a few caveats with regards to the quality and reliability of the data published by the Commission. Data is generally not published with a delay varying between a day and a week or more. ++Together with a representative of the Europeana Foundation we have had a meeting with cabinet members of VP Ansip on the 12th of December that has not (yet) been published on the page in question. that the commission fails to publish information about all meetings that fall within the scope of its own decision. Given that, the decision only came into force on the first of december 2014 and it remains to be seen whether these problems are structural or just growing pains of the system.