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Select Committee on the Application of Anti-Corruption Act decided on Monday by consensus that lobbying rules must be developed for the Riigikogu.

“With this, we have initiated the development of good practices or a code of conduct for lobbying in the Riigikogu,” said the Chairman of the Select Committee Ken-Marti Vaher at the meeting.

“Work on lobbying rules has started, including discussion on the form in which the rules would be adopted. Good practices do not require an Act, they can be approved by the Committee or the Board of the Riigikogu. However, if a decision is made that a lobbyist register must also be created, this might require an amendment of the legislation,” Vaher said of the future considerations.

The lobbying rules are not meant to obstruct lobbying, instead they should make it as clear, coherent and transparent as possible. GRECO (Group of States against Corruption at the Council of Europe) has given Estonia guidelines that concentrate on preventing corruption among the members of the parliament, judges and prosecutors.

In its report on Estonia, GRECO recommends that the Riigikogu should define the rules for the communication of MPs with lobbyists and other third persons who are trying to influence the legislation. The Committee reached the conclusion that this would also include all the NGOs, who have their own interests.

The Committee also discussed the application of the Anti-Corruption Act to MPs in relation to accepting benefits ex officio. The immediate application of the Act on the members of the Riigikogu remains open as the Act does not specify whom an MP should inform about receiving a benefit, and how.

“The rules to be applied to the Riigikogu should also set out how an MP should act when someone wants to present them with a valuable gift,” Vaher said.

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