Interest groups are natural or legal persons and organizations without legal personality that carry out activities likely to directly or indirectly influence the development and application of public policies, the development of regulatory proposals or the making of decisions, in defense of one's own interest or of third parties or of a general interest.
- Law 19/2014 , of December 29, on transparency, access to public information and good governance (LTC), in its articles 46 to 53.
- Decree 171/2015 , of 28 July, which creates the Register of interest groups of the Administration of the Generalitat and its public sector.
- Decree-Law 1/2017 , of 14 February, which creates and regulates the register of interest groups in Catalonia.
What should a local body do when faced with a request for a meeting with an elected official?
We explain it to you through the following infographic:
The interest group register: frequently asked questions
Local bodies can fulfill their obligations regarding the registration of interest groups, by means of the Register of interest groups of Catalonia or by means of their own register, always with the guarantee of reciprocal recognition of actions, from the beginning single registration and interconnection and registry interoperability.
If the local body decides not to create its own register, it does not have to take any action, since it will be the interest group that wants to act before it, which is obliged to register in the Register of interest groups of Catalonia
However, the local body should activate a link with the Registry of Interest Groups of Catalonia of the Department of Justice
If the AOC Transparency Portal is used, the link will be made automatically by the AOC consortium.
If the local entity decides to create its own register, it must comply with the provisions of articles 46 to 52 of the LTC as well as guarantee the reciprocal recognition of actions with the other registers, the principle of single registration and the interconnection and registry interoperability.
The private natural or legal persons and the networks, platforms and other sources of organized influence that develop activities carried out with the aim of directly or indirectly influencing the processes of elaboration and application of policies and decision-making, regardless of the channel or medium used, including voluntary communications, contributions and participation in consultations on regulatory proposals, legal acts or other consultations.
The key to the proper interpretation of which persons, entities, organizations, platforms, networks or other forms of collective activity, must be registered in the Register of Interest Groups, will be that the fundamental purpose of these are to influence the decision-making of the local body . The most important thing is not the identity of the registrants, but the activities they carry out.
But not all natural or legal persons, entities, organizations, platforms, networks or other forms of collective activity, who address a local entity do so with the purpose of influencing decision-making this.. Many of these address:
- because they are interested in certain procedures
- to submit improvement proposals, suggestions or complaints
- to formulate queries regarding a specific action or public service,
- to exercise the right of access to certain public information
- to intervene in citizen participation processes.
- to make requests included in the scope of the right to request.
In cases like these, they are addressed with a different intention than that of influencing the decision-making of the local body. Therefore, the Register includes all the people and entities and the activities they carry out that aim to influence, directly or indirectly, the decision-making process, regardless of the matter, the place in which they are carried out or the channel or medium used.
The influence is direct when there is some communication activity or direct contact between the interest group and a public servant.
On the contrary, influence is indirect when influence activities are carried out through channels such as the media, public opinion, conferences, social events, or strengthening capacities and knowledge aimed at public servants or with the participation of 'these by express invitation.
In order to act as an interest group in front of the high-ranking officials, it is necessary to prove the registration or the application for registration in the Register of interest groups.
Therefore, the actions of the local body should be the following:
1.- Ask the purpose of the interview or meeting requested
2.- If the applicant is included in any of the following cases ( interested in certain procedures, to present proposals for improvement, suggestions or complaints, to make inquiries regarding a certain action or public service, to exercise the right to access to certain public information, to intervene in citizen participation processes , to formulate requests included in the scope of the right to request.), it is not necessary to register in the Register and you can be given an interview or meeting date.
3.- If the purpose of the interview or meeting has nothing to do with the previous cases or any that can be assimilated to them, the local body must check the registration or that the application has been made registration request. If you haven't registered or haven't made the request, you won't be able to make an appointment until you prove it.
The Registry of Interest Groups of Catalonia is organized and managed by the Administration of the Generalitat, which is responsible for the acts of registration and the other actions foreseen by law, without prejudice to the powers of monitoring, inspection, control and sanction that may correspond to the bodies or entities that make up the register.
It is managed as a single register of the groups that act before all the organs, bodies and institutions of the Administration of the Generalitat and its public sector, before the statutory bodies and institutions of the Generalitat, the local bodies of Catalonia, as well as before the public universities of Catalonia and its public sector entities and the professional associations and other public law corporations of Catalonia.
The General Directorate of Law and Legal Entities of the Department of Justice.
Enrollment in the Register must occur through the submission of an application in accordance with the procedures and requirements established by the Department of Justice.
To submit a registration request, you must complete the registration/amendments procedure .
The body responsible for the Register must guarantee that information relating to interest groups is disseminated in reusable formats through the Transparency Portal and that the administrations and institutions that make up the Register can disseminate information that specifically affects them through their own portals.
What is intended with the creation of a register of interest groups is to provide public knowledge of the natural or legal persons, entities, organizations, networks, platforms and other sources of organized influence, which act before each of the administrations or institutions that make up the Register, of the activities of influence or intermediation that they develop in front of them. and the ethical rules to which they must adjust their actions.
As provided in article 49 of the LTC, the register must include:
A list ordered by categories, of people and organizations that act with the purpose of influencing the development and application of public policies and the headquarters of their organization.
The information that these people and organizations must provide in relation to the activities they carry out.
A common code of conduct
The control and auditing system
Registration in the Registry gives rights such as the following:
a) Appear in front of officials, authorities and public employees, elected members or deputies as an interest group registered in the Registry.
b) Be part of the mailing lists to receive automatic alerts on procedures, acts and public consultations regarding the activities or initiatives of the Administration relating to matters of interest to the declarant that have been stated in the responsible declarations or in subsequent modifications.
c) Record their contribution in public consultations as interest groups registered in the Register.
d) Exercising the other rights that can be recognized for the fact that they are registered in the Registry.
Yes, because what predetermines registration is not the domicile of the interest group, but the area in which influence is exercised: the local authority and its public sector entities.
No, currently the registration is unique, since access to the registers must be facilitated from the Registry of Interest Groups of Catalonia, in an interconnected manner that facilitates integration and in accordance with the principle of recognition reciprocal of the respective registrations and actions, so that no more than one registration is required for each interest group.
The Administration of the Generalitat must promote that the information relating to interest groups that is already on record or in the possession of public institutions is updated, ex officio or at the request of the interested person, in the Register of interest groups of Catalonia.
Political parties and churches are not registered. Those who carry out activities included in the scope of the Registry on behalf of others must not be registered either, since the person who must be registered in the Registry is the one on whose behalf they work. On the other hand, trade unions and professional and business organizations and professional associations and other public law corporations to which the fundamental rules and other laws attribute public functions and/or institutional representation must be registered. developed on its own account and in the interest of third parties to whom, by law, they are entrusted with the function of representing their interests. In this case, however, they only have to declare the activities other than the public functions, of institutional and corporate representation inherent to agents of social, economic and professional dialogue.
Any activity carried out in front of a high official with the intention of influencing the drafting of laws, rules with the rank of law, general provisions, or the drafting or application of public policies and/or the taking of decisions, including contacts, contributions and voluntary participation in official consultations on legislative proposals, regulations, legal acts or other consultations.
In particular, the following activities must be declared in the Register:
- Oral and written contacts, meetings and hearings.
- Preparation, dissemination and communication of letters, writings, reports, informative material or debate and position documents.
- Organization of events, meetings, promotional activities, conferences, conferences or social events to which public servants are invited.
- Provision of tactical or strategic advice, including those whose scope and timing are aimed at influencing public servants.
- Voluntary contributions and participation in consultations or hearings on regulatory projects and the development and application of public policies.
- Private activities carried out with the intention of influencing carried out by corporations under public law, trade unions and professional associations other than public and institutional functions of representation and defense of corporate, professional and economic interests.
- The provision of legal or professional advice directly linked to defending the interests affected by administrative or judicial procedures.
- Those intended to inform a client about a general legal situation to ensure that the action conforms to the legal system.
- Representation activities carried out within the framework of a conciliation or mediation carried out within the framework of the Law.
- Those linked to the exercise of the fundamental right to have an impartial trial, including the right of defense within the framework of the administrative procedure.
- Advice for informational purposes for the exercise of rights or initiatives established by the legal system.
- The activities carried out by chambers, professional associations, academies and sports federations within the framework of the public functions attributed to them by the legal system.
- Those made by workers' unions and professional associations in defense and promotion of their own economic and social interests.
- Those made by political parties and churches.
- Activities that respond to a direct and individual request from a public servant such as ad hoc or periodic requests for objective information, data or technical knowledge or similar.
A single person can constitute an interest group.
Registration can be refused when all the necessary documentation for registration is not presented and when the applicant does not carry out activities included in the scope of the Registry.
An example is the case of active participation activities in public policies carried out without the will to influence; or the case of the person, network or coalition that is not part of the scope of the Register, such as public legal entities, or political parties and churches which, despite being private, are excluded from the Register of groups of interest
Registration in the register of interest groups entails the following obligations:
- Accept that the information provided is made public
- Ensure that this information is complete, correct and reliable
- Comply with the code of conduct (of those registered in this Register)
- Accept the application of the control and inspection regime and the corresponding measures in case of non-compliance with the code of conduct or that established by Law 19/2014, of December 29, on transparency, access to public information and good governance.
- Periodically update the information declared before the Registry.
They must report on the activities they carry out, their area of interest and their funding, by means of a responsible statement.
Declarants who act on behalf of third parties must also report on the clients, persons or organizations for which they work and the financial amounts they receive, if applicable, and the expenses related to their activity as a group of interest
When any modification occurs. For example, changes to general and basic information must be reported to the Registry within three months of the change; the specific information, within the calendar year in which the modification took place.
The common code of conduct is the set of rules that make up a minimum ethical standard that interest groups and networks, platforms and other sources of organized influence undertake to comply with in the practice of the activities included in the target area of the Register in which they are registered. The code is common to all subjects registered in the same register.
Article 51 of the law contains a list of what the code of conduct must include, as a minimum:
- The name and details of the declarant who signs it.
- The entity or organization that the declarant represents or works for, and the interests, objectives or purposes pursued by its clients.
- The declarant's commitment not to obtain or attempt to obtain information or influence decision-making in a dishonest manner.
- The declarant's commitment to provide updated and non-misleading information at the time of registration in the Register and to keep it updated afterwards.
- The commitment not to incite, by any means, authorities, public positions, deputies or civil servants to break the law or the rules of behavior established by the code of conduct.
- The commitment to accept and comply with the measures taken in the event of non-compliance with the obligations established by this law or by the code of conduct.
The common code of conduct is set up as a membership code, and the Law provides for its minimum content. Groups can therefore add more rigorous commitments of conduct. In this case, they must declare them in the Registry so that it can be publicized.
Registration in the Register of Interest Groups will be temporarily suspended and, in the event of serious non-compliance, registration may be cancelled.
Both the suspension and the cancellation of the registration in the Register, lead to the denial of access to the offices and the publication of the penalty in the register. This "denial of access to the offices" must be understood as a refusal to attend to the proposals or initiatives that may be raised in the process of drafting or applying policies, such as negotiation, until raise the suspension; it should not be understood as a denial of the physical access of its representatives to the municipal offices (registry, offices, etc.).
Anyone can make a complaint to the body responsible for the Registry. Your personal and contact details, the affected interest group and the events reported, the alleged or alleged non-compliance and the reasons, information or documentation on which the complaint is based must be stated, without accepting mere value judgments. If this is the case, it is also necessary to record the damages suffered as a result of the events reported.
It will be the people responsible for the registration, who will carry out the processing of the complaints, who in any case must guarantee the hearing of the affected person.
Any citizen can access the information contained in the Register given that all the information contained therein is public, except for personal data which is governed by current regulations on the protection of personal data.
No, access to the information is free
These are causes for cancellation of registration:
a) Express resignation due to cessation of activities as an interest group.
b) Death or subsequent incapacity of the individual.
c) Termination of legal personality.
d) Dissolution of forms of organized collective activity.
e) Overdue non-compliance with the requirements on the merits of which the status of interest group is acquired.
f) Administrative penalty for cancellation of registration, administratively final.
g) Final judicial conviction of the interest group or of the persons who direct its activity or act in the name or legal or voluntary representation of the interest group.