European journalist collective launches series of publications on Council secrecy

November 30th, 2020

A collective of European journalists investigating European Union politics has recently launched a investigative study into the secrecy of Council decision making.

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Online workshop explores the theoretical case ‘Against Transparency’

September 4th, 2020

Transparency –openness of government– is a value that no one wants to be seen pleading against. Or is it? An online workshop, organised by the Academy of Finland-funded research project TrUE explores the case ‘against transparency’. The workshop is open to the public, upon registration.

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7th Global Conference on Transparency Research Call for Papers Closing Soon

August 21st, 2020

The 7th Global Conference on Transparency Research will be held from 19-21 May at the Copenhagen Business School. This edition of the conference is entitled “Rethinking Transparency: Challenging Ideals and Embracing Paradoxes”.

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Transparency news reports in 2019

March 11th, 2020

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 for 2019. Recent news reports on EU transparency can also be found on the sidebar to the right of this post.

See also the news report digests for 2018, 2017, 2016,  2015 (first quarter, second quarter, and second half), and 2014 (last quarter).

Will presidents Von der Leyen and Michel take the lead in advancing transparency? Photo credit: European Council/EU Observer.

Main themes in 2019

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The big lesson after ten years of EU transparency reforms? You will never get it right

January 14th, 2020

By Maarten Hillebrandt

The Lisbon Treaty recently celebrated its tenth anniversary. The Treaty, which laid the fundament for a reformed European Union, entered into force with the promise that European decision making would become more transparent, and therefore more democratic. The tenth birthday makes up a nice moment to consider what has come of these ambitions.

Credit: El País.

On 1 December 2009, the day that the Lisbon Treaty entered into force, the European Commission released a long memo to journalists. What should they expect from the new treaty? To no-one’s surprise, the memo was obligatorily jubilant. As a concrete example of improvement, the Commission mentioned that the treaty would bring “more democracy and transparency”. The attribution of policy competences and the decision-making process, particularly where it concerned legislation, would henceforth be more visible and understandable for the public at large. Would Lisbon finally draw a line under the dragging transparency debate?

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An agenda for transparency in the EU

November 11th, 2019

TRANSPARENCY AND OPENNESS of Union decision-making procedures are foundational values of the EU[1] and essential to a system under the rule of law. But are the existing EU standards of transparency adequate to ensure that these values translate to legitimate exercise of public powers on the European level? In view of today’s challenges, is the EU’s approach to transparency sufficient, given that it is an atypical constitutional structure exercising sovereign powers across multiple levels of government and in constant need of explaining itself?

By Herwig Hofmann and Päivi Leino-Sandberg

 

 

 

 

Upcoming transparency research & policy events

September 2nd, 2019

18-19 September 2019: “Workshop: Inside the Black Box of Trilogues”, Utrecht University. Closed event.

24 September 2019: “Seminar: The future of EU transparency”, Finnish EU Presidency, Brussels. Closed event.

19-20 November 2019: “RECONNECT Conference: Transparency in the EU: mechanisms and practices”, Lille Catholic University (ESPOL). Abstract submission deadline: 20 September 2019. More information here.

Transparency reforms “better served” by withholding access, access applicant is told

June 7th, 2019

The Council’s ongoing transparency overhaul continues to attract public attention.

Last summer, the Council entered a reorientation process of its internal access to documents policy. The internal reforms, which are still ongoing, were sparked by a highly critical report published by the European Ombudsman, as well as a court judgment which found current access practices in informal trilogue negotiations on legislative dossiers between the Council and the European Parliament to contravene EU transparency law. A recent confirmatory application (appeal) decision highlights the public attention for these reform negotiations.

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MEPs publish open letter to upcoming Council Presidency concerning transparency

April 3rd, 2019

Today, 97 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) submitted a letter to Finnish government which will take up the rotating EU Council Presidency as of 1 July, urging it to make lobby transparency a central theme in its policy agenda.

The letter, written by prominent transparency proponents and MEPs charged with transparency policy questions (including Heidi Hautala, Danuta Hübner, and Sylvie Guillaume), was signed by MEPs from various political groupings, including the Social Democrats, the Christian Democrats, and the Greens. It calls on Finland’s Prime Minister Juha Sipilä, to address the opacity of Council decision making, which an accompanying press release describes as “a veritable ‘black box’ which has been lagging far behind the Parliament and Commission on transparency provisions”.

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Dutch parliament solicits advice on EU transparency from Venice Commission

February 27th, 2019

On 20 February, the Dutch parliament adopted a motion concerning the EU’s transparency policy.

The motion underlines the fundamental democratic importance of transparency as well as the risk-sharing and redistributive character of the Eurozone, followed by a request to the Venice Commission to issue an advice on “possible shortcomings and possible improvements to the democratic oversight of the European Union and the Eurozone by the Dutch parliament”. In particular, it requests the Venice Commission to focus on transparency of the legislative process, particularly trilogues, the EU’s budget and other financial resources, the Eurogroup and the ESM, the ECB, and the oversight of financial institutions under the Banking Union.

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