Presentations and discussions on EU transparency across North-Western Europe

October 24th, 2016

During the coming months, several presentations and/or discussions on transparency of the European Union are planned in which members of the Open Government project or affiliated researchers take part.

On Wednesday 2 November, the Dutch Parliament’s Standing Committee on European Affairs is to organise a roundtable discussion on the state of EU information provision. Invited as speakers are dr. Gijs Jan Brandsma (UU, Utrecht), prof. Deirdre Curtin (EUI, Florence), Maarten Hillebrandt (University of Bielefeld, Meijers Committee), and prof. Kees Groenendijk (Meijers Committee). Written contributions (one in English, two in Dutch), can be accessed here.

On Tuesday 6 December, dr. Guri Rosén will present and discuss a paper in the CERG seminar (Gothenburg, Sweden) entitled “The secret is out: How to account for the (lack of) transparency in EU external relations?”.

On that same day, Maarten Hillebrandt will hold a presentation on “Understanding the development of access to documents in the Council of the EU”, at the Law and Society seminar of the University of Bielefeld (Germany).

Update on 7 November 2016.

New article explores the relations between secrecy and executive dominance in the EU

October 14th, 2016

The concept of the ‘space to think’ has since long offered an argument to EU decision makers to limit the transparency of decision-making processes. In a new article entitled “‘Integration without transparency’? Reliance on the space to think in the European Council and Council” published in the Journal of European Integration, Maarten Hillebrandt (Bielefeld University) and Stéphanie Novak (UC Lille) explore a tacit but common assumption underlying the EU’s reliance on the ‘space to think’: that it is caused and amplified by the dominance of executive actors.

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Fifth Global Conference on Transparency Research Announced

October 14th, 2016

Limerick logoThe fifth Global Conference on Transparency Research has been announced.

It is due to take place at the University of Limerick, Ireland, from 19-21 June 2017. The organisation this time is in the hands of an tricontinental team of researchers from the Universities of Limerick, Baltimore (USA), Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) and Makerere (Kampala, Uganda).

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Transparency news reports second half 2015

March 21st, 2016

Since September 2014, the Open Government in the EU blog scans English-language online news outlets for news on EU transparency. Please find below the news digest of the second half of 2015. Digests of other time periods are searchable via the category “news reports” at the bottom of this post.


07/07/15// BBC: TTIP talks: Transparency call for EU-US trade disputes

07/09/15// EurActiv: EU needs compulsory transparency register to rein in Big Pharma lobbying

10/09/15// Politico: Transparency: Now you see it…

15/09/15// Euractiv: Trialogues: What goes on behind closed doors?

22/09/15// EP News: Economic policies: how Parliament insists on transparency and democratic accountability

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Transparency news reports April-June 2015

March 21st, 2016

Since September 2014, the Open Government in the EU blog scans English-language online news outlets for news on EU transparency. Please find below the news digest of the second quarter of 2015. Digests of other time periods are searchable via the category “news reports” at the bottom of this post.


31/03/15// Parliament Magazine: MEPs unconvinced by commission’s ‘revolutionary’ EU tax transparency proposals

16/02/15// IAM Magazine:  It is now incumbent on all sides to back full transparency at the EPO; and that does mean all and full

20/02/15// Tax News: EU Seeks Transparency On Corporate Tax

25/02/15// Radio Poland:  Poland applauds proposed EU energy solidarity, transparency

18/03/15// EUObserver: EU proposes new tax transparency rules

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Dutch Presidency of the EU to host “transparency unconference”

March 15th, 2016

logo-transparencycamp-europeThe Dutch government, which currently holds the Presidency of the EU, has recently announced that it will host a “transparency unconference” in Amsterdam on 1 June. The event, which has its own dedicated website is co-organised by the Dutch NGO Open State Foundation, which has as its mission the promotion of open data.

The term unconference stands for an “unscheduled conference, where you decide the agenda”. Among its objectives, the organisers pledge to go in a collective search for transparency innovations on the technological or other fronts. Participation to the event is free of charge.

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Brussels workshop on the role of confidentiality in international negotiations

January 25th, 2016

On Friday 12 February, CERIM (Maastricht) will host a workshop on ‘The Law and Politics of Confidential EU Negotiations’ at the UM Campus in Brussels.

The workshop is organised by dr. Abazi and dr. Aedriaensen (both CERIM). Central questions that will be asked at this workshop are: Why does the European Union negotiate (part of) its external negotiations in secret? To what extent is secrecy necessary in the context of EU negotiations and what are the consequences in terms of democratic accountability?

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Netherlands takes up the EU Presidency amidst both ambitions and concerns over transparency

January 7th, 2016
Meeting Rutte

Dutch Prime Minister Rutte welcomes Commission President Juncker to Amsterdam, while the other members of the Commission cue up. The welcoming ceremony is one of the rare occasions that the public will be able to view during the Commission’s visit to the Netherlands.

The European Commission will meet the Dutch chambers of parliament behind closed doors, at the latter’s request.

Yesterday, the European Commission arrived in the Netherlands for a series of meetings at the opening of the Dutch EU Presidency that last for the first half of 2016. An opening ceremony, including the taking of the traditional group photo, took place at Amsterdam’s stately Museum of Maritime History.

This official reception however appears to be a rare public occasion during the Commission’s stay in the Netherlands.

Dutch daily newspaper NRC Handelsblad today reported that the debate between the Dutch States-General (combining both the lower and the upper houses of parliament) and the European Commission, scheduled to take place today, will take place behind closed doors.

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Further development of the EMU – should legitimacy come first or last?

November 13th, 2015

schrank-castleBy Päivi Leino-Sandberg

The June 2012 European Council adopted a report setting out ‘four essential building blocks’ for the future Economic and Monetary Union (EMU): an integrated financial framework, an integrated budgetary framework, an integrated economic policy framework and, finally, strengthened democratic legitimacy and accountability (1). In its discussions, the European Council stressed that:
Throughout the process, the general objective remains to ensure democratic legitimacy and accountability at the level at which decisions are taken and implemented. Any new steps towards strengthening economic governance will need to be accompanied by further steps towards stronger legitimacy and accountability. (2)
But while the European Council has repeatedly expressed its concern about the legitimacy problems of the EMU, the tools proposed for tackling these problems have remained extremely modest. This trend continues in the recent Five Presidents’ Report adopted in June 2015 (discussed here and here), which again includes a brief concluding section on ‘Democratic Accountability, Legitimacy and Institutional Strengthening’, but manages to discuss the topic without any tangible results. For many readers of the Five Presidents’ Report, it might not be evident that a further centralization of power to EU institutions will automatically bring about greater legitimacy. After all, in many cases the democratic guarantees continue to function best at national level.
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Paper on transparency in EU intergovernmental institutions

September 23rd, 2015

logoOn Friday 25 September, Open Government in the EU researcher Maarten Hillebrandt, together with dr. Stéphanie Novak (Université Catholique Lille) will present a paper at a workshop on the central role of the European Council in recent EU decision making, held at LUISS Guido Carli (Rome). The paper, which deals with the role of the space to think in the EU’s intergovernmental institutions (the European Council and the Council), is planned to be included in a special issue on the European Council in the Journal of European Integration (editors: prof. Uwe Puetter and prof. Sergio Fabbrini).