Legal reform Oversight

Dutch parliament solicits advice on EU transparency from Venice Commission

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.

The motion was tabled by Pieter Omtzigt (CDA/EPP) and his fellow European Affairs Committee members Bram van Ojik (GroenLinks/Greens) and Kees Verhoeven (D66/ALDE). Particularly Omtzigt has over the past years developed a profile as a staunch critic of the EU’s approach to ensuring public and parliamentary oversight of its decision making processes. In 2017 he presented a working paper at a COSAC conference of national parliaments of EU member states, which was followed by a letter, co-signed by all parliaments, which urged the Presidents of the Council, the European Council, the Commission, and the Eurogroup to ensure greater transparency in various EU decision-making processes, including the legislative process and Eurozone governance.

The Venice Commission is a standing advisory body of the Council of Europe (a non-EU organisation not to be confused with the Council of the EU) composed of European experts in constitutional law. It has yet to respond to the Dutch parliament’s request.