Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

EU Ombudsman puts pressure on the Commission to improve transparency of expert groups

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

EU Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, has recently demanded improvements in the Commission’s practice of consulting Expert Groups. Among other things, the Ombudsman has demanded legally binding rules to improve transparency and a balanced composition of the Commission expert groups. This recent initiative is part of the Ombudsman’s ongoing investigation into the systemic issues of the Commission’s practice in this area, which was opened in May 2014. It also adds to the transparency demands already expressed by the European Parliament last year.

The key demands put forward by the Ombudsman are:

  • The adoption of a legally binding horizontal framework for expert groups modeled upon the framework used by Directorate General’s AGRI for civil dialogue groups
  • The publication of a call for applications for every expert group
  • Stronger links and consistency with the EU Transparency Register
  • The revision of the Commission’s conflict of interest policy to avoid potential conflict of interest of experts who are appointed in their personal capacity
  • The provision of better and more timely information about the expert groups

If realized, this would be an interesting new development on the way to concretizing the concept of good administration in the EU. It remains to be seen, however, whether the Commission will be willing to abandon its until present “soft” rule-making approach regarding the consultation of expert groups. Among ACELG researchers Dr. Joana Mendes has been advocating the hardening of rules on participation in Commission rule-making.

This contribution previously appeared on the ACELG blog.

 

Happy holidays

Friday, December 19th, 2014

The Open Gbook page and epsom salt ornamentovernment in the EU blog wishes its readers happy holidays and a clear vision in 2015!

 

 

 

EUI transparency workshop leads to publication

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Last year in January, the European University Institute organised a roundtable on transparency and archiving, on the occassion of the EU’s archive management being transferred to the EUI.

leino-sandbergThis news blog reported on the workshop at that time (see “Seminar on Transparency and Archives in the EU reveals a wide range of views“, a blog which was later picked up by Russian scholarly circles.

Little over a year further, one of the talks given at this roundtable has now been published in the EUI working paper series. In this paper, dr. Païvi Leino of Helsinki University, an expert who has followed the legal development of European transparency for over a decade, reflects on recent legal developments. Particularly, her paper considers the consequences of the way transparency is put into practice for democratic legitimacy and citizens’ right to participate democratically. The paper can be accessed here. –MH

Op-ed on current initiatives for enhancing EU’s democratic transparency

Friday, February 7th, 2014

Parliamentary disobedience in the the eurosceptic UK strengthens democratic oversight in the EU.

On 4 Februari, an op-ed article by professor Deirdre Curtin of the Open Government in the EU, entitled “How the British are making the EU more democratic”, was published in Dutch daily Trouw. The article (in Dutch) is reproduced below. By clicking on the image, the picture is shown in a larger version.

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More secrecy and more summits means less democracy, says professor of European Law

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

An article by professor Deirdre Curtin of the Open Government in the EU research group was published yesterday in the Irish Times.

In the article, entitled “Secrecy at EU level is a challenge to democracy“, Curtin, director of the Amsterdam Centre for European Law and Governance, argues that current trends in EU decision-making, partly set in motion by the crisis, partly through the growing role of the EU as a global actor, create an unhealthy level of secrecy accompanied by a lack of democratic deliberation. Below, some excerpts from the article are quoted.

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Transatlantic Conference on Transparency Research a huge success

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

On 8 and 9 June the Transatlantic Conference on Transparency Research (TCTR) was held in Utrecht, the Netherlands. It was organised by members of the Open Government in the EU research group Albert Meijer and Deirdre Curtin. Researchers came from four continents and presented over 50 papers on all sorts of transparency related issues, ranging from transparency in the EU, to conceptualisation, to accountability, to developing countries. Attendants came from various disciplines, among them public administration, law, political science, psychology, as well as from various professional backgrounds such as the European Ombudsman’s office, the civil service, and NGOs. Keynote addresses were given by the European Ombudsman, Mr. Diamandouros, and prof. Paul ‘t Hart of the Utrecht School of Governance.

In his concluding address, Alasdair Roberts compared the emerging transparency community to his own children: it is now in the age where it starts talking back to you intelligently, but does not yet refuse to talk to you. In other words, transparency as a research field is going through an intellectually exciting time.

Held around a year after the transparency conference in Newark, Utrecht’s TCTR was the second international conference on transparency. The research community hopes to make this a regularly returning event, and invites all members to consider hosting a follow-up. –MH

All papers can be found here. News coverage from Freedom Info can be found here.

Government Transparency and Trust

Friday, January 13th, 2012

This morning, Utrecht School of Government researcher Stephan Grimmelikhuijsen was awarded a doctorate for his dissertation on transparency and trust.

In his dissertation, Grimmelikhuijsen delved into the complexities of a widely held expectation of transparency: that citizens will trust their government more if they have more information about it. In order to study this question, Grimmelikhuijsen chose for the methodological interesting angle of an experimental setting, working with self-designed transparency websites as templates. The research was co-supervised by Open Government in the EU team member dr. Albert Meijer, while prof. Deirdre Curtin of our team was on the reading committee. The Ministry of Home Affairs has already shown interest in the dissertation and will be discussing its implications for policy during its next ministerial meeting. Grimmelikhuijsen will continue to investigate the impact of government transparency in a post-doctoral programme at the USG.

A press statement about the dissertation can be found here.

Transatlantic Conference on Transparency Research 2012: Call for papers

Monday, October 31st, 2011

On 7-9 June 2012, the second Transatlantic Conference on Transparency Research will be held at Utrecht University, the Netherlands.

The Utrecht School of Governance, in which the Open Government in the EU research team is based, will host the conference. A call for papers has now gone out. The deadline for proposals is 1 December 2011. For more information about paper submission, and general information about the conference, please visit the conference website.

Dutch Access to Documents (WOB) Controversy

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

Not only in the EU is a debate (or should we say, battle) still ongoing over the meaning and usefulness of transparency. Also in the Netherlands has a member of government sought to reopen a fundamental discussion on the current WOB-regime.

WOB is the Dutch equivalent of FOI and comes from the Dutch term Wet Openbaarheid van Bestuur (Law of Administrative Openness). A recent series of public statements made by the Dutch Minister for Home Affairs Donner suggest that the Dutch Government might consider rolling back the current arrangements. (more…)

Access Info Europe releases report on EU transparency

Friday, May 20th, 2011

On 21 March of this year, Access Info Europe, a Madrid-based advocacy organisation favouring greater access for citizen to government information, published a report on the state of play in the EU’s transparency policy.

In their report, AIE had wanted to list the positions of all of the EU’s 27 member state governments in the ongoing reform talks of the current access to documents legislation (regulation 1049/2001/ec). However, the researchers gradually concluded that 16 out of 27 member states refused to put forward a position on this matter. A large part of the report is therefore devoted to the application procedures that the researchers went through, as well to the patchwork interpretation of various of the EU’s member states. It makes for insightful, interesting reading on the current state of affairs when it comes to implementing regulation 1049.

The full report can be downloaded here. Click here if you want to find out more about AIE’s mission and strategy. –MH