Corruption in the Bundestag

Lobbyists from more than 500 interest organizations can enter and leave the Bundestag largely unhindered. This is a list of house ID card holders, issued by the Parliament’s administration at the request of abgeordnetenwatch.de now. Strikingly, three associations from the energy and raw materials industry, backed by large corporations, applied for the coveted access cards.

House passes to the German Bundestag are a good instrument for lobbyists to bring their concerns to the MPs. Up to two of the green plastic cards can be applied for by interest organisations at the Bundestag administration, provided they are registered in a public association list and can justify why their regular access to the Bundestag is absolutely necessary.

At the request of abgeordnetenwatch.de according to the freedom of Information Act (IFG), the Bundestag has now published an up-to-date list of House ID holders. In 2019, ID cards were granted to 504 lobby organizations. A total of 764 lobbyists had an Access Card, 14 fewer than the year before. Most of them work for associations or associations in the areas of Social Affairs, Transport and infrastructure, energy/raw materials and real estate.

70 interest groups are new

New on the House id list are 70 organizations. It is striking that three major associations from the energy and raw materials industry sought an access card to the Bundestag:

New on the House card list are also several large associations from other industries. For example, the German Association of the flavor industry received an access card. According to its own data, the organization represents more than 95 percent of flavor manufacturers in Germany, including Coca-Cola and Nestle, companies in the tobacco industry and the chemical group BASF.

The German Travel Management Association (VDI) also has two lobby cards, backed by more than 560 companies, including Bayer, BASF, Adidas and McDonalds, as well as travel providers such as the cruise company AIDA Cruises, Eurowings and Lufthansa. On request, a spokesperson stated that the Bundestag wants to hold regular talks with members of Parliament and take part in thematically relevant events.

Verband had its own lobbyists sit in the Bundestag – as a member of Parliament

The Stiftung Familienunternehmen also has two access cards, which, according to its own information, represents more than 500 of the largest German family-owned companies. However, the foundation does not name them, neither on its website nor on request. Only the members of the board of Trustees, which includes representatives of Henkel, Katjes and the pharmaceutical company Merk, are to be consulted.

“We represent a variety of relevant topics for family businesses and are the contact person for politics and the media in economic policy, legal and tax issues,” explained a spokesman on request. The organization sees itself primarily as a “Thinktank” and “professional authority” and publishes about ten to 15 studies per year. On several occasions, the Stiftung Famlienunternehmen has come under criticism for its lobbying work, among other things for its activities around the inheritance tax reform in 2016.

An interesting case is the Federal Association of the German bioethanol industry. For many years, the interest Association had its own lobbyist sitting in parliament – the CDU Bundestag member Norbert Schindler. At the same time, Schindler worked as chairman of the Federal Association, which earned him up to 3,500 euros per month. Following the departure of the CDU politician from the Bundestag in 2017, the Federal Association of the German bioethanol industry has now applied for a lobbyist’s House card for the past year.

“This is an advantage for an NGO”

In addition to interest groups from industry, numerous initiatives from civil society are also new on the House id list. Since 2019, the non-profit organisation Wikimedia has been able to enter the Bundestag with two House passes, and is campaigning for free access to knowledge and education. “With a House pass it is possible to attend committee meetings and appointments without registration. This is an advantage for an NGO,” explained Bernd Fiedler from Wikimedia Deutschland. One is primarily interested in the topics of digitalization, copyright, culture and free access to education.

Since 2016, the Bundestag has issued significantly fewer House passes to stakeholders. At that time, the Parliament tightened the access rules after abgeordnetenwatch.de had sued in court a house id list. Since then, companies, law firms and agencies no longer have the opportunity to obtain a house ID. Only registered associations and organisations receive an annual pass.

Here is a list of all 504 associations, associations and organisations that had up to two House passes for the Bundestag on 17 January 2020. The list also shows how many House cards the respective organization received.