Unregulated lobbying a problem, according to expert

Hækkerup’s career switch reignites debate on politicians in interest groups

Karen Hækkerup left her position as the Justice Minister last week to head the agricultural interest organisation Landbrug og Fødevarer. This is not the first time a senior politician or civil servant has made this kind of career move.

DR Nyheder reports that this is causing some experts to express concern about lobbying in Denmark.

MP as stepping stone
Per Clausen, Enhedslisten’s member of the Presidium of the Danish Parliament, the supreme authority made up of four elected MPs, believes that this trend sends the wrong signal to the public. “It’s a problem if the public gets the impression that they perceive being a politician as being a part of a career where you can climb to be the chief lobbyist in an interest organisation,” he said.

Clausen told DR that it is the fact that politicians’ have inside knowledge of new laws and insight into how the executive functions that is problematic. For this reason he thinks there should be clear laws or even legislation in the area.

READ MORE: Hækkerup steps down as justice minister

Mads Christian Ebensen, a lecturer at the University of Copenhagen who has worked in several ministries and government authorities shares Clauen’s concern. “It needs to be clarified what potential problems there are,” he told DR.

“Because this won’t disappear, it will just continue. In five to ten years there will be more lobbyists and they will be even more professional than they are today.”

Denmark is one of the few western countries where lobbying is completely unregulated. Germany, Finland and Norway are working working to introduce rules that would prescribe a ’quarantine’ period between public service and joining an interest organisation.