Civil society News reports

European journalist collective launches series of publications on Council secrecy

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

The group, called Investigate Europe, opened a dossier on the (in)transparency of Council decision making last year. Last week, the journalists launched a new series of publications concerning the secrecy of Council negotiations, with a overview article in the German Tagesspiegel highlighting the system by which the Council keeps member state positions in legislation under the fold, an interview with the European Ombudsman in the Swedish Utriketmagasinet, and a publication in Portugal’s Público revealing the Portuguese government’s behind-the-scenes support for Poland in its fight against the EU’s rule of law mechanism. Today, Investigate Europe journalist Harald Schumann appeared alongside Vicky Cann of NGO Corporate Europe Observatory and Greens MEP Sven Giegold in a webinar entitled “Black Box Council – New insights into the secret decision-making in the Council”.

Characteristic of Investigate Europe is its cooperation between EU correspondents from several member states who coordinate their research and journalistic revelations in national media outlets. This helps to break down national “chinese walls” of issue perception where it concerns topics of concern to the European public at large. It is often held that the national basis of European media, as well as the language barrier created by the EU’s 24 official languages, has formed a significant obstacle in the emergence of truly European public debates. While outlets such as Politico and the EU Observer have sought to fill that niche, relatively limited permanent cooperative projects entail coordinated multi-lingual publications in more than just the EU’s most-spoken languages (i.e. English, German, French).

Investigate Europe has previously published stories on the Council’s internal transparency rules, as well as the political controversies which these rules prevent from reaching the wider public. Politically controversial issues that they have addressed include the failure to regulate national tax haven policies, women’s quotas on company boards, and the currently ongoing rule of law crisis. -MH