The LobbyCal tool consists of two elements: a server application that gathers the information on lobby meetings held and a website plugin which displays the information on those meetings on an MEP’s website.
All elements are available free of charge and can be downloaded here:
- 1. Install the LobbyCal server application
Having downloaded the application it can be installed on any server. The server application extracts information on lobby meetings from calendar events (Outlook, Google…) and makes it available to the website to display the information. The server application also allows the user to modify, add or delete any meeting information directly in the database.
For the purpose of simplicity multiple MEPs may share one server application. This could be done by delegation or political group.
- 2. Sign up for the LobbyCal service
Once the server application is installed, you can logon to the service and create an account with a login name you choose and the email of your MEP. In any normal case that should be firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are using an external calendar just enter the email address associated with that account.
- 3. Create appointments
If you want to register a meeting with a lobbyist or outside group, simply invite a virtual participant (by sending an email invitation to email@example.com) to the meeting in your calendar, and as a result this meeting will show up on the webpage (once you complete step 4). You must actually send the invite for this to work.
To find out your <alias>, check https://lobbycal.yourdomain.eu/#/alias. Initially your alias is the login name you chose in the beginning, but you can change this at any time if you want and even randomise it for security reasons (so that nobody else can guess it).
Note that only past meetings are displayed to your web page. You can also add future meetings, but they will only show up after the date has passed.
Please note that ONLY the “subject line” or “titles” of the meetings are read and displayed, not the contents in the message below, or any of the attachments.
In the meeting title you should use the following format:
Lobby Organisation: description of the meeting. Example: “Transparency International: Discussion on EP Code of Conduct reform”
As an option, you can also add the ID number of the lobby group in the Transparency Register so that the system can create an automatic link.
If there is some text that you do not wish to display, just put a * in front of it (e.g. * secret text, personal data, phone numbers). Example: “Transparency International: Discussion on EP Code of Conduct reform 501222919-71 *+32 489 58 7140″
If you notice a mistake in the output on your website or to add data like the transparency register ID after the meeting is published, you can simply edit your calendar event. Just make sure that your calendar actually sends an updated invitation to LobbyCal firstname.lastname@example.org, so that this will be changed on the site.
- Set up LobbyCal on your website
- For WordPress websites:
Once the server application is installed, you can download the plugin for your WordPress website here:
To install it in WordPress, go to Plugins – Add new – Upload plugin.
Once the plug-in is installed on WordPress, a new “lobbycal2press” entry will show up in your WordPress settings menu. At the top, it asks for the address (URL) pointing to your MEP’s appointments. To fill this in (this is required), visit your LobbyCal account settings, here: https://lobbycal.yourdomain.eu/#/settings (they are also in the email you receive upon signing up).
At the bottom of the settings page you will find a piece of code that you need to copy-paste into whichever WordPress page you want the appointments to be displayed on. The other settings you can leave at the default values.
- For Typo3 websites:
Here is the link to the Typo3 plug-in: http://typo3.org/extensions/repository/view/lobbycal
- Install the extension with the Extension Manager.
- Configure your settings with TYPOSCRIPT constants in the TYPO3 backend, all parameters are listed in the Constant Editor.
- Include the LobbyCal TYPOSCRIPT Extension in your TYPOSCRIPT Template (“Includes”)
- Choose if you want to include jQuery from the extension (include_jquery = 1).
- Place plugin on the page in which you want to list the meetings.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Will all my meetings be online?
No. Only those meetings that you wish to publish and for which you specifically invite the tool will be published on your website.
What if I make a mistake?
All data can be changed at any time. Either through sending an updated meeting request or by modifying the information directly through the website of the tool. You always remain in full control of your information.
Which meetings should be published?
This is up to each MEP. Transparency International recommends that any meeting with someone that had or sought to have a tangible influence on EU decision-making should be registered. We leave this to the good judgment of MEPs to determine which contacts fall under that definition. Regular scheduled meetings with lobbyists should be declared. But sometimes a brief unscheduled phone call for example can have significant impact as well – and then it should be declared too. Think about it this way: any meeting that might be interesting to know for a citizen, journalist and civil society could be declared.
What if I meet a whistleblower or human rights defender?
Along the lines of the European Commission guidelines, Transparency international recommends that contacts not aimed at influencing legislation (e.g. constituent inquiries or personal contacts) or where publication would endanger the life, integrity or privacy of the individual, interfere with court proceedings or administrative procedures, the information should be adapted or withheld from publication.
What if I meet with a diplomat or other person/organisation not falling under the scope of the Transparency Register?
Transparency International recommends publishing all contacts with persons or organisations which have had or sought to have a tangible influence on policy-making. As a general rule this should include every person or organisation that falls under the scope of the Transparency Register. For persons or organisations that do not fall under the scope of the register – such as diplomats, European Commission or Council officials, and EU member state governments – we leave the decision up to the good judgment of MEPs. If they feel that the publication of a contact would provide useful information to the public a contact can be published – but this is not generally expected.
What if I meet a lobbyist at a reception? What if I don’t even know who they are?
Such unforeseen encounters that do not aim to influence legislation would not have to be declared. And if you do not know who you spoke to or were unaware that it was a lobbyist, publication is simply impossible. Once again, we leave this to the MEP’s judgement to determine which contacts sought to have a tangible influence and which contacts should be declared. Sometimes a short meeting can have a significant impact or be followed-up by an email with concrete proposals – in which case the meeting should be declared.
How am I supposed to handle the administrative burden?
The additional administrative burden of publishing lobby contacts should be as little as possible. That is what the LobbyCal tool is all about. Once installed, it should make publishing a meeting a two-click exercise. Once this is properly integrated into the normal workflow of office management and scheduling the additional burden should be minimal.
How detailed should the information on the meeting be?
The information provided under “topic of discussion” should provide an idea of what this meeting was about in a few bullets or keywords. If a specific legislative process or file was discussed, that should be mentioned here. As an example, to simply list “Transparency” as meeting topic is probably too general. “Mandatory Lobby Register + EP Code of Conduct reform” would allow everyone to have a clearer idea on what each specific meeting was about.
What if my invitation to a meeting has personal data in it?
Before publishing names of individuals, you should ask them to consent to having their names made public in order to comply with data protection rules. Publishing the name of the organisation is fine without prior consent. In any case you can always use a * in front of any text elements or phone numbers for example to hide them from publication.
What if I am attaching documents to the meeting, or typing something in the description/agenda that I don’t want everyone to see?
Don’t worry: the system only reads the subject line of the meeting, nothing else.
What if the meeting is cancelled? Or something changes?
The event won’t be shown until after it was supposed to take place. If you need to change something, just update it in your calendar, and send the invite again. It will automatically be updated.
What if I don’t use Outlook?
Don’t worry, it works also with Google calendar and with Zimla.
DO YOU NEED ANY HELP?
Transparency International EU
Policy Officer EU Integrity
+32 2 893 24 59