The German coalition government needs tighter guidelines for tackling conflicts of interest, though it has been transparent about the influence of lobbying on legislation over the past few years, activist group LobbyControl said on Thursday.

There should be better action taken on party financing and conflicts of interest among high-ranking employees in ministries, said LobbyControl, a pressure group that advocates for greater transparency in German and European politics.

“The current regulations and procedures for dealing with conflicts of interest are by no means sufficient,” the group said in its 2024 report.

In a high-profile case last year, a senior official in the economy ministry left his post after a nepotism scandal.

It had emerged at the time that Patrick Graichen had facilitated the recruitment of a friend, who was best man at his wedding, as head of the German Energy Agency, and had not disclose their relationship.

Subsequently, Graichen's family ties to a research organisation that the ministry commissions for studies and reports came under scrutiny.

In another case, Transport Minister Volker Wissing replaced a senior official in February following similar allegations.

LobbyControl called for stricter guidelines, especially at senior levels of government.

"All too often it is left solely to self-assessment or the discretion of direct superiors to recognise conflicts of interest and act accordingly," it said.

It called for uniform guidelines across all ministries. Senior officials should be required to disclose information pertinent to conflicts of interest, and when there are significant changes in their circumstances. This should include company investments.

As in France, a separate authority should ensure transparency, it said.

LobbyControl welcomed progress in transparency on party funding, citing the immediate publication of more donations than previously, but criticised that there was no upper limit on such donations. (Writing by Matthias Williams Editing by Bernadette Baum)