Sophie in ‘t Veld MEP writes op-ed on lack of transparency in the EU

SONY DSCSophie in ‘t Veld, a Dutch member of the European Parliament for the Democrats ’66 / ALDE party, laments the apparent lack of EU transparency in an op-ed on European news website Euractiv.com. “Trust in government and politics, both national and European, is at an all-time low, and the key to restoring trust is transparency.”

In her opinion article, likens the EU’s mentality to that of Sir Humphreys, the fictive British Prime Minister’s advisor in BBC hit series Yes, Minister: “Open government, Prime Minister. Freedom of information. We should always tell the press freely and frankly anything that they could easily find out some other way.” According to In ‘t Veld, it is apparent that the EU is developing towards a parliamentary democracy where citizens take ownership, and where transparency and accountability have a central role. The EU’s tradition of diplomatic and secretive decision making, she argues,  is outdated. “Sorry Sir Humphrey, you are a man of the past. Transparency is the future.”

For years, In ‘t Veld has been a vocal advocate for greater transparency, particularly in the Commission and the Council. In July of this year, she won an appeal of the Council against an earlier judgement of the Court of Justice of the European Union in her favour. In ‘t Veld had filed a case against the SWIFT agreement, which governs the exchange of payment transfer details between the United States and the EU.

Since 2001, the EU’s institutions are bound by a regulation which provides that all EU documents should be accessible to the public, unless the regulation foresees in an overriding reason not to disclose them. From the start however, this regulation has been subject of criticism from MEPs and civil society, but also from the Commission and certain member states who argue that too stringent access demands make their work impossible.

In ‘t Veld’s Euractiv op-ed can be accessed here. A reaction by In ‘t Veld to the court judgement (in Dutch) can be accessed here. -MH

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